Environmental groups and the Public and Private Workers of Canada union have called for an immediate halt to the practice of turning trees directly into pellets following the release of an independent review of industry practices. A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) think-tank has caught the attention of environmental groups and a forestry workers’ union, who are concerned about companies chipping whole trees into pellets and exporting them for biofuel. The BC Ministry responded to inquiries indicating approximately 1.2 per cent of the provincial timber harvest went directly to a pellet plant in 2020 and that the province monitors the quality of the logs consumed by all timber processing facilities. A proportion of the harvest, 540,000 cubic metres was delivered from the bush to pellet plants in BC and 200,000 cubic metres was pine beetle wood. The Wood Pellets Association confirms that BC’s wood pellets are made entirely from the residuals from sawmilling, harvesting or low-grade logs rejected by the sawmills and pulp mills. Every year nearly 10 million cubic metres – or roughly 10 million telephone poles worth of wood is wasted in BC, and literally goes “up in smoke” in slash pile burns or is left to rot in the forest, becoming a significant wildfire hazard.
Pellet manufacturers in BC are proud to contribute to the sustainability of BC’s forest sector, improving utilization and creating renewable green energy, jobs and economic investment in the province. At the same time, wood pellets from BC are making a significant contribution to the global fight against climate change, displacing large volumes of dirty coal and fossil fuels in power production in key markets.