Gov’t should take role in using waste material

It is time for the government to take a leadership role in the use of logging waste material.

It is time for the government to take a leadership role in the use of logging waste material.

First a correction on last week’s article. The total fuel used for the light vehicle fleet was wrong.

After a closer review of the source material it appears that the 2.7 million vehicles was the total provincial fleet not just light vehicles. I discovered it was impossible to calculate a total fleet fuel use because there were no specific numbers given for the types of vehicles (i.e. light, medium and heavy trucks).

I therefore went to a second source, Statistics Canada 2012, net sales of fuel by provinces. For B.C. the total net sales of gas and diesel was 6,110,344 litres. Since the source table was in thousands of litres that comes to 6.1 billion litres for 2012.

The net fuel use does not include the off road vehicles used in agriculture and mining, etc.

The point I was trying to make (unfortunately exaggerated by my error) was that the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through the burning of cull piles (equivalent to burning four billion litres of fuel each year) is a very significant amount when compared to the fuel used by our provincial vehicle fleet.

If government and industry would cooperate in phasing out the current residual burning program green house gas emissions could be significantly reduced. Industry is working on alternate uses of waste material but positive results could happen a lot faster if government took a more active role.

Neil Godbout’s article quoted part of a conversation that took place at the International Bioenergy Conference and Exhibition held recently in Prince George.

The following is an excerpt:

“Gordon Murray, the executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, complained that pellet plant operators are living a ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence that discourages investment because of limited access to supply, both in quantity but also in terms of restrictive year-to-year agreements.

“‘Conifex Timber CEO Ken Shields refused to buy-in to Murray’s pity party. Your own association report says … that your industry wants 24 per cent of the fiber volume, but you want to pay only two per cent of the log costs,’ Shields said. ‘It is more economical for our industry to leave that fibre in the burn pile. Get the financial numbers up and you’ll have lots of fiber.’

“In other words, the success of the bioenergy sector is wonderful, so long as the forest companies get a piece of the pie for supplying the ingredients. Just because there is no use for wood waste at the mill doesn’t mean the forest companies want to just give the waste away when it clearly has commercial value.

“Both sides agree that the provincial government needs to get involved and implement a system that will allow the bioenergy sector in B.C. to flourish while also giving forest companies the incentive to supply wood waste on a long-term basis.

“Another possible fix would be for the provincial government to encourage forest companies, through tax breaks and other regulatory incentives, to invest in the bioenergy sector directly. By doing so, the forest companies would have a financial incentive to keep the wood moving through the system, from the mills and then onto the energy providers.

“Regardless of the solution, both sides need to profit. Fortunately, the prospects are positive for both forest companies and bioenergy producers to benefit financially and environmentally from closer ties, all from seeing a log for its entire potential and not just as a sheet of plywood, a roll of paper or a stack of 2x4s.

“Ultimately, those benefits will come to everyone, in terms of jobs, business and environmental sustainability, government revenues and smart harvesting of a public resource. The province needs to make more of a priority of getting these two sectors on the same page.”

For more information on the conference contact Neil Godbout (

In future articles we will look at ways we can encourage the government and industry to speed up the process of using the waste material as well as a grass roots approach to have small business get involved.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.


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