Partnership for Sustainability: Transforming Wood Waste into Bioresources with the Osoyoos Indian Band and Mercer Celgar

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In Oliver, B.C., a notable collaboration between the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB), Mercer Celgar (Celgar), and the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is underway.

This initiative is aligned with the provincial government’s objectives to reduce the burning of slash piles and to improve the utilization of wood fibre that has traditionally been underused. Supported by funding from FESBC, the project aims to recover uneconomical residual fibre from the OIB’s traditional territory, thereby addressing environmental and economic challenges within the forestry sector.

Project Overview and Objectives
This project focuses on recovering and utilizing low-value fibre, often overlooked for sawmills and deemed not viable for non-sawlog products. By converting this fibre into wood chips and hog fuel for electricity generation, the initiative reduces waste and produces cleaner energy. Specifically, some recovered fibre is processed into chips in Midway and then transported to the Mercer pulp mill in Castlegar.

Hog fuel is a term used in the forestry and wood processing industries to describe a coarse, unrefined wood waste product. It consists of a mix of bark, wood chips, sawdust, and sometimes even whole tree stumps and branches that have been ground or shredded. The material is called “hog fuel” because it is processed through a machine called a hog or wood hog, which grinds up wood and bark into smaller pieces.

Hog fuel is primarily used as a bioenergy source, burned in furnaces or boilers to generate heat or power for industrial processes. It is a form of biomass energy that contributes to renewable energy goals by utilizing wood waste that might otherwise be discarded, thus reducing landfill use and contributing to a more sustainable use of resources.

Environmental and Economic Impacts
By prioritizing using uneconomical fibre, the collaboration aims to decrease emissions from slash pile burning, a common practice that contributes significantly to carbon emissions. To date, over 26,000 cubic metres of burnt logging residue have been recovered and redirected from waste piles to productive use, with this volume expected to increase through 2024. This effort translates into substantially reduced carbon emissions, equivalent to removing the annual emissions of approximately 13,800 mid-sized vehicles.

Community Benefits
The project also delivers direct economic benefits to local communities, such as a $230,000 payment to Revelstoke for utilizing the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation log yard. This financial injection supports the logging community and local businesses involved in servicing the forestry sector. Furthermore, the initiative is 65 percent complete, with plans to continue maximizing the recovery and utilization of residual fibre, thereby sustaining job creation and supporting local economies.

Future Directions
As the project progresses, the partnership between Celgar, OIB, and FESBC exemplifies a commitment to sustainable forestry practices and the efficient management of forest resources. The ongoing efforts to utilize uneconomical fibre underscores more sustainable and responsible forest management practices, reflecting a collective move towards environmental stewardship and economic resilience.

We invite you to review the official press release for further details on this collaborative project and additional insights.

Source: Mercer International