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Editorial: Unlucky lumber

Seems a waste to be wasting waste wood, no?

August 17, 2023  By Maria Church


Bio Fuels Inc. runs a 2013 Doppstadt 3060 shredder to process a huge range of waste wood from construction and demolition projects. Photo courtesy Bio Fuels Inc.

Brian Perrault and Michelle Perdicou visibly cringe when they talk about the volume of construction and demolition waste wood that is buried every year in Canadian landfills. 

They cringe because, as the GM and site manager of an Alberta waste wood recycling facility, they want that material brought through their gates. The company provides tipping fee discounts for wood waste disposal at their site. Yet their biggest obstacle to growth is lack of supply. 

Rather than seeing that end-of-life wood product cleaned, processed and used to produce power and/or heat, it is buried in amongst the unrecyclable plastics and metals of our dumps. 

The solution, as they see it, is for government to step in and incentivize wood waste recycling. Their industry would explode, Brian tells me. “There would be such a volume, it would be incredible.”

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As it stands, Bio Fuel Inc. employs up to 15 people and produces up to 5,000 tonnes a month of usable hog during construction industry highs. 

Bio Fuel Inc.’s story might be new to me, but faithful readers of our 15-year-old publication may recognize the company from the April 2011 cover. Then-editor Heather Hager visited the company on site just west of Edmonton to profile their operation and learn about how they process recycled wood and ship it to the biomass-fuelled Dapp Power plant in Westlock, Alta.

It was a pleasure to check in with the company after so many years and to hear about their progression. Incredibly, many among the small staff that keeps Bio Fuel Inc. running are still at it – Brian and Michelle among them. 

In fact, Michelle reached out to me about the story in light of Brian’s upcoming retirement next year. The wood waste recycling champion has been at it for more than 26 years. Despite the lack of regulation in the industry, Brian remains faithfully optimistic that change is coming as more and more folks become conscious of the “right thing to do” when it comes to recycling and environmentally friendly choices. Read more from Brian and Michelle in our cover article here. 

I’ll be hearing from more bioeconomy champions at the upcoming Wood Pellet Association of Canada conference in Ottawa this fall. Canadian Biomass’ team will be there, as usual, in force to take in all the latest industry updates – and the pellet BBQ from the grandfather of wood pellets himself, John Swaan.

Check out the conference agenda and let me know if you’ll be there too: mchurch@annexbusinessmedia.com. 

***

Faithful readers may also recall that I recently pledged to avoid the term waste in referencing the valuable feedstocks that fuel Canada’s bioeconomy, and so I apologize for the many mentions above as well as in the entire summer issue. Wood waste recycling is an established industry, beyond the musings of this editor. •


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