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Waste to Wing project a first in South Africa

Airlines are facing increasing pressure to become more sustainable, yet options to reduce carbon emissions in aviation are limited. This is where Waste to Wing comes into the picture.

Electric planes for example are not foreseen to have a significant share of passenger movements before 2040. Besides efficiency gains, through technical and operational improvements, the use of sustainable aviation fuels as an interim measure is key to significantly reduce carbon emissions in this industry. However, to date, sustainable aviation fuel has not been available on a commercial scale in South Africa, or Africa as a whole.

To address this challenge, a consortium of the enterprise development specialist Fetola, the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa and SkyNRG (global market leader in sustainable aviation fuel supply and development) are launching the Waste to Wing project. A first of its kind in the country, the project will determine the feasibility of using waste biomass to produce sustainable aviation fuel in South Africa.

The consortium will pilot the development of 25 micro, small and medium sized enterprises who will supply the raw material or feedstock. The project will demonstrate the workings of pre-treating the feedstock and converting it to sustainable aviation fuel. This will be the first step towards a local sustainable aviation fuel industry.

A strong requirement and guiding principle of the Waste to Wing project is that the fuel should conform to the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials’ sustainability standard. The intention is to develop a fuel sector that promotes food security, biodiversity, and water, land and labour rights.

Waste to Wing has the financial support of the European Union’s Switch Africa Green Programme of € 1.2 million. It will also look at sharing key learnings with other African Countries.

Head of WWF’s Policy and Future’s Unit Saliem Fakir, commented: “WWF is delighted to be part of this pioneering project that has huge industrial potential and which will be catalytic in shifting South Africa’s aviation sector towards a low carbon trajectory. We look forward to this opportunity to use our convening power to bring all relevant stakeholders together for the common goal of developing Africa’s first alternative aviation fuel value chain and ensuring it conforms to the highest standard of sustainability”.

CEO of Fetola Catherine Wijnberg said: “Fetola’s reputation is built on growing the economy and creating jobs, by building businesses that last. The Waste to Wing programme provides us an opportunity to drive meaningful impact in a whole new value chain. Fetola will develop and build capacity within 25 SMEs to be reliable and commercially robust suppliers in an internationally strategic industry.

CEO of SkyNRG Maarten van Dijk added: “We are very proud to be included in the ongoing development of sustainable aviation fuels in South Africa. After supplying South African Airways and Mango with sustainable aviation fuel in 2016 through the Solaris project, we are eager to take the next step and start developing local production capacity in the region together with WWF and Fetola.” 
Waste to Wing is working on sustainable biofuels
© JP Valery Unsplash
Developing sustainable biofuel is the main objective of the Waste to Wing project

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