Canadian Biomass Magazine

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WPAC conference off to a strong start

November 18, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. – The first day of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s conference in Vancouver, B.C. tackled some of the most pressing issues the industry is currently facing – sustainability and safety. As export markets for Canadian wood pellets continue to grow steadily, producers must prove their product is sustainable. Gordon Murray, WPAC’s Executive Director explained that since NGOs are badmouthing pellets, the industry needs to prove it’s sustainable in order to continue to grow.


November 19, 2014
By Amie Silverwood


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November 18, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. – The first day of the Wood Pellet
Association of Canada’s conference in Vancouver, B.C. tackled some of the most
pressing issues the industry is currently facing – sustainability and safety.
As export markets for Canadian wood pellets continue to grow steadily,
producers must prove their product is sustainable. Gordon Murray, WPAC’s
Executive Director explained that since NGOs are badmouthing pellets, the
industry needs to prove it’s sustainable in order to continue to grow.

 

Peter Wilson from the Sustainable Biomass Partnership
explained how the new certification criteria are being developed and what’s at
stake. The partnership is building the framework that will facilitate trading
and foster regulatory alignment. The SBP vision is to enable an economically,
environmentally and socially sustainable solid biomass supply chain that
contributes to a low-carbon economy.

 

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“We need to stand on firm ground,” said Richard Peberdy from
Drax, one of the founding members of the Sustainable Biomass Partnership. “The
SBP certification scheme can move our industry forward but only if it is
effective.”

 

WPAC president Brad Bennett explained the scheme's potential
as a worldwide system that can create momentum with regulatory bodies. “We can
create a brand for our product that we sell worldwide.” While most of the
pellets produced in Canada are consumed in Europe, there are emerging markets
in Japan and Korea that will potentially embrace the certification.

 

No matter how sustainable the industry proves to be, pellet
producers must develop best practices for safety. After all, wood pellets are
made from highly combustible dust.

 

“An incident anywhere has the ability to impact us all,”
explained Scott Bax from Pinnacle Renewable Energy. WPACs combustible dust
committee’s goal is to have 100 per cent safe plants compliant with all the
regulations 100 per cent of the time. In order to attain this goal, however,
the committee has to come up with education and training for best practices and
develop an external combustible dust audit tool and have producers undergo
external audits.

 

“We will not compete on safety,” said Bax. “We’ll learn from
each other and get better.”


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