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Unlike petrol and diesel which are made from non-renewable resources like crude oil, biofuels are derived from renewable materials such as vegetable and animal products.
There are 2 main types of biofuels that are used as transport fuels in Australia. These are ethanol and biodiesel.
Ethanol blended petrol (EBP)
E10 and E85 are ethanol blended petrols. They are a blend of unleaded petrol and ethanol.
- E10 fuel is a blend of unleaded petrol and up to 10% ethanol. It is widely used in Australia.
- E85 fuel contains up to 85% ethanol. It is generally only suitable for purpose-built vehicles.
While most new and some older vehicle models can run on E10, some new and many pre-1986 models can't use E10.
Check with the vehicle manufacturer to find out if the vehicle can use ethanol blended petrols. The owner’s manual and the vehicle warranty often have information on the fuels recommended for use with the vehicle.
A full list of vehicle models suitable for E10 use can be found on the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries website.
Biodiesel contains a blend of diesel with either 5 or 20% fatty acid from vegetable or animal tallow. These blends are called B5 or B20.
Not all diesel vehicles are compatible with biodiesel.
Check with the vehicle manufacturer to find out if the vehicle is suitable for use with biodiesel.
Laws on biofuels
Biofuels, particularly ethanol blended petrol and biodiesel, are offered for sale by a number of fuel retailers.
Some states have mandated the sale of certain biofuels
Two states have mandated the sale of ethanol blended fuels and biodiesel:
- New South Wales introduced a biofuels mandate in October 2007. See Biofuels Act 2007 (NSW) and Biofuels requirements in NSW
- Queensland introduced biofuels mandates in January 2017 for the sale of bio-based petrol and bio-based diesel. See Liquid Fuel Supply Act 1984 (Qld) and Queensland biofuels mandates.
Fuel quality standards are regulated
The Australian fuel industry and fuel suppliers must meet legislative requirements for fuel quality.
The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is responsible for regulating the fuel quality standards that apply. See Regulating Australian fuel quality for biofuel quality standards.
Fuel pumps must be clearly labelled
Pumps dispensing ethanol blended petrol, or diesel containing more than 5% biodiesel, must be clearly labelled to indicate their contents.
Make sure to check the fuel pump label before you fill up.
What the ACCC does in biofuels
We have a role in monitoring the retail prices of fuel and petrol in Australia. We monitor the retail prices of unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG in Australian capital cities and in more than 190 regional locations..
The ACCC is alert to the market for ethanol blended petrol and biodiesel in Australia and monitors developments.