Biofuels are any fuel produced from biological matter (biomass). This can include agricultural and forestry crops and residues, organic by-products, and waste (excluding plastics made from crude oil). Biofuels can be substitutes or partial substitutes for fossil fuels.

How biofuels are used

Biofuels can be used as a substitute for, or additive to, petrol and diesel in various applications, ranging from vehicles and fishing fleets to boilers. The most commonly used biofuels are biodiesel and bioethanol.

In New Zealand, biodiesel has been produced from tallow (a meat processing by-product) or waste cooking oil, while bioethanol is produced from whey (a dairy industry by-product). New Zealand uses a very small amount of biofuel in its transport fleet.

Increasing the use of sustainable biofuels in New Zealand

The Government will introduce a Sustainable Biofuels Mandate to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.  

From 1 April 2023, fuel wholesalers will be required to cut the total greenhouse gas emissions from their transport fuels they sell by a set percentage each year, by deploying biofuels as part of their fuel supply.

Biofuels are fuels which are made from renewable biomass such as plants or organic waste. As plants that a biofuel is made from grow, they absorb GHG emissions. When the biofuel is combusted, roughly the same amount of GHG emissions is released. 

Liquid biofuels are a renewable, low-emissions fuel that can help reduce GHG emissions from transport and are not as dependent on new fuel infrastructure or new vehicles as other ways of reducing GHG emissions (for example, electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles).

Last updated: 29 June 2022