Tesco in trouble over biofuel

From The Times:

Tesco has made false claims about the source of the green fuel sold at its service stations, according to an investigation that found that the chain sold one of the most environmentally damaging types of biodiesel.

An investigation by Greenpeace found that 30 per cent of the biofuel in Tesco diesel came from palm oil. A litre of Tesco diesel typically contains 5 per cent biofuel.

Researchers from the group bought biodiesel from a Tesco filling station in Edmonton, North London, on April 3 and sent it to Germany for analysis by ASG, an independent laboratory.

A Tesco spokesman said initially: “The feedstock we use is rapeseed and soy. There is no palm oil whatsoever.” When pressed, he admitted that small amounts of palm oil might be used in some parts of the country. He said that the only recent example was in the North West in January when Tesco biodiesel contained 10 per cent palm oil. When told of Greenpeace’s findings, Tesco issued a new statement: “We try to minimise the use of palm oil but levels do go up and down. We wouldn’t give a set limit.”

Tesco said that the concentration of palm oil in its biodiesel was the responsibility of Greenergy, its supplier. Tesco owns 25 per cent of Greenergy. A spokeswoman for Greenergy also initially denied using palm oil but later said: “It’s a very, very small proportion of our feedstock mix.”

Greenergy is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which claims to be trying to prevent rainforests from being destroyed to grow palms. Only a tiny proportion of palm oil has so far been certified as coming from sustainable sources.

The Liberal Democrats have uncovered a loophole that allows suppliers, when declaring the previous use of the land on which biofuel was grown, to put “unknown”. A DfT spokesman said: “We allowed this flexibility, following extensive consultation, in recognition of fact that it may be difficult to supply information when the supply chain is new. We have been clear that suppliers will only be allowed to do this for a limited time.”