Working Paper

Alternative uses and substitutes for wastes, residues, and byproducts used in fuel production in the United States

Policymakers aiming to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels are interested in supporting fuels derived from wastes and residues to avoid the significant indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions associated with food-based biofuels. However, it is important to consider whether the use of byproducts in fuels is likely to have an impact on alternative uses of those materials. Changes in prices of the waste or residue could drive the industry currently using the material to seek substitutes. Potential replacements for these materials have different climate impacts, which change the net GHG effect of using wastes and residues for fuel production. Particularly, the production of substitute materials could have high life-cycle emissions. In other words, while the use of wastes and residues in biofuel production is unlikely to significantly increase the production of those materials, there still could be significant indirect GHG emissions from displacement effects.

This paper aims to support displacement analyses in the United States in regulatory and research contexts by providing relevant data on byproducts, wastes, and residues that are currently used or might be used for biofuel production.

Alternative fuels Life-cycle analyses