Matias Alarotu has worked at Gasum as a sustainability specialist since 2020. His responsibilities include Gasum's product- and company-specific carbon dioxide emission calculation and the maintenance and development of biogas sustainability systems.
The Nordic Swan Ecolabel guarantees the ethics and sustainability of Gasum's biogas
Gasum’s biogas has held the ecolabel since 2011. The Nordic Swan was granted to biogas that is used for transportation purposes and produced at Gasum’s biogas plants in Finland.
Nordic Swan Ecolabel indicates the sustainability of biogas
Biogas is the only fuel in use in Finland to hold the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. The sustainability ecolabel guarantees that the production of the biogas is sustainable and traceable and uses fully renewable raw materials. After granting the Nordic Swan Ecolabel to a product or service, the fulfilment of its criteria is monitored regularly.
With the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, making environmentally friendly choices is easy. The label guides consumers and businesses towards more sustainable and environmentally aware consumption and production.
The Nordic Swan is an official ecolabel used in the Nordic countries. It is granted to products and services that are the best of the best in their product group in terms of environmental friendliness.
The ecolabel is based on voluntary certification. However, the criteria for obtaining it are strict.
“The Nordic Swan Ecolabel considers the entire life cycle of the product. For biogas, this means reviewing the raw materials of the fuel, the manufacture, distribution, recycling and waste phase. We aim to set strict criteria and update them regularly,” says Harri Hotulainen, Senior Consultant for the Nordic Swan Ecolabel.
In practice, the criteria are stricter than the statutory regulations.
“In terms of fuels, for example, the raw materials must be renewable, sustainably sourced and traced. Biogas is a great fuel not only due to its low emissions but also because its production does not waste natural resources; biogas is derived from biowaste and sludge from wastewater treatment plants,” explains Hotulainen.
100% renewable raw materials
The reasons for granting the Nordic Swan Ecolabel to the biogas produced by Gasum include the fact that the greenhouse gas emissions of biogas are up to 85% lower than those of fossil fuels.
“With the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, Gasum is able to clearly demonstrate that the environmental impact of biogas is smaller than that of fossil fuels,” says Hotulainen.
For Nordic Swan products, including biogas, not just any raw material will do. The use of palm oil is forbidden, as are any by-products, residues and waste from palm oil production. Soybean oil, sugar cane and other genetically modified, plant-based raw materials are also banned.
“In gas fuels, 100% of the raw materials must be renewable,” says Hotulainen.
The criteria for the ecolabel are very strict and cover requirements for more than 50 product or service groups.
“Only 20–30% of the products or services in each category are able to fulfil the requirements,” says Hotulainen.
The only Finnish fuel with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel
Biogas is the only fuel in use in Finland to be granted the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. Gasum’s biogas has held the ecolabel since 2011. The Nordic Swan was granted to biogas that is used for transportation purposes and produced at biogas plants in Lahti, Huittinen, Oulu, Turku and Riihimäki.
From the perspective of the ecolabel, biogas is an excellent product as it is widely used almost throughout the country and its climate impact is considerably smaller than that of fossil fuels.
For a long time, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel of Gasum’s biogas was the only such ecolabel granted to transport fuels in Finland. Currently, there is also one other operator holding the ecolabel.
Criteria reviewed regularly
For businesses, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel offers solid proof that their products fulfil the strict environmental requirements. The purpose of the criteria is to ensure that the products help mitigate climate change, support biodiversity and promote resource efficiency and the circular economy.
The criteria are regularly reviewed in line with new environmental data, technological development and the market situation, among other factors.
“The criteria are reevaluated about every five years. We are currently working on revising the criteria for fuel, and the new criteria should enter into force at the turn of the year,” says Hotulainen.
Whenever the criteria are reviewed and revised, any businesses holding the Nordic Swan Ecolabel must reapply for the certification in accordance with the new criteria.
“Next year, this will also apply to Gasum’s biogas. As they entered into force in 2017, the current criteria for fuel are in need of an update,” says Hotulainen.
Sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions of biogas monitored on a monthly basis
The application process for the Nordic Swan Ecolabel usually takes a few months.
“The documentation used in the national sustainability system of Finland can also be used in the application process of the Nordic Swan because the criteria for documentation are identical,” says Hotulainen.
As the biogas plants of Gasum are covered by the sustainability system, they meet the statutory sustainability criteria.
“The Nordic Swan Ecolabel also indicates that the biogas fulfils criteria that are, in part, even stricter than the law. The maintenance of the sustainability system and the Nordic Swan is mostly managed using the same documentation, which means that the Swan does not cause a lot of extra work as long as the criteria are in order,” says Matias Alarotu, Sustainability Specialist at Gasum.
After granting the Nordic Swan Ecolabel to a product or service, the fulfilment of its criteria is monitored annually.
“The holder of the ecolabel uses an official report to update and review their key information,” says Harri Hotulainen.
In practice, the greenhouse gas emissions reduction of Gasum’s biogas is also monitored on a monthly basis. When calculating the emissions, the entire supply chain of biogas is taken into consideration and a comprehensive annual report is drawn up based on the calculations.
“We constantly monitor the fulfilment of the criteria as it is an absolute prerequisite for our business operations,” says Alarotu.
Most well-known ecolabel in Finland
The Nordic Swan is an official ecolabel that is widely known in the Nordic countries. It is a reliable, independent and officially approved third-party certification that acts as strong proof that the businesses’ products fulfil strict environmental requirements.
In the criteria for the ecolabel, the environmental impact of the products and services is reviewed from various viewpoints. The goal of the ecolabel is to help mitigate climate change, support biodiversity and promote resource efficiency and the circular economy. Moreover, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel raises awareness of chemicals and health.