Graanul seeks SBP certification for 2 Estonian pellet plants

By Katie Fletcher | October 07, 2016

Graanul Invest AS Imavere and Ebavere Graanul OÜ pellet plants in Estonia are moving toward certification through the Sustainable Biomass Partnership. The first evaluation audits to be carried out by NEPCon Estonia are expected to take place in December.

Of the 11 wood pellet plants Graanul Invest owns, the Imavere plant was its first and is one of the company’s largest with a capacity of 105,000 tons per year. All of the plant’s primary and secondary feedstock originates from Estonia and Latvia. Ebavere’s feedstock also originates in the region and has a slightly larger production capacity of 110,000 metric tons.

The supply base estimation (SBE) reports were carried out by certification body NEPCon Estonia and only done within Estonia’s borders. A discussion on each plant’s feedstock sourcing region was provided in their respective SBP supply base reports. In Estonia, 2.2 million hectares (5.4 million acres), a little over half of the Estonian land territory, is covered by forest and its share is growing. According to the Forestry Development Plan 2012-2020, the sustainable cutting rate is 12 to 15 million hectares per year.

Forests cover around 3 million hectares of area in Latvia, amounting to 51.8 percent of territory that’s covered by forest in the country. Again, the area covered by forest is increasing. Within the last decade, the timber production in Latvia has fluctuated between 9 and 13 million cubic meters.

As a means to increase transparency in the supply chain and to reach near 100 percent forest management (FM) certification levels inside the organization, Graanul has only purchased certified feedstock since Jan. 1 for both its Imavere and Ebavere plants.

Forest Stewardship Council controlled wood and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification controlled sources were set as the minimum sustainability requirements in supplier contracts. This initiated a certification race amongst feedstock suppliers and lead to a 40 percent increase in Imavere’s feedstock FM certification levels, and a 36 percent increase in Ebavere’s. In addition, Graanul included a section in its supplier contracts about how feedstock suppliers could minimize the risks related with possible sourcing from Woodland Key Habitats, and has only signed contracts with suppliers who implemented the WKH risk mitigation measures. Suppliers are audited once every 12 months. The company’s suppliers also went through a training seminar carried out by NEPCon Estonia, 57 participated from 27 different feedstock suppliers.

For the Imavere facility, all raw material used is now already approximately 70 percent FM certified and therefore SBP-compliant. The total volume of feedstock for the facility is between 400,000 and 600,000 cubed meters.

Based on the SBP-endorsed regional risk assessment for Estonia, there is only one specified risk area in Estonia, which refers to the potential threats from forest management activities to areas with high conservation value. In Estonia’s case, the potential threats to WKHs.

Controlled feedstock within AS Graanul Invest Imavere’s and Ebavere’s SBE, is only low risk and SBP-compliant if the mitigation measures have been applied. Once a feedstock supplier is listed as following the mitigation measures, referred to as GI measures, in the GI suppliers’ list they have proven that their wood origin documentation is maintained throughout the supply chain from the felling site to the biomass producer. The GI suppliers list is updated every three months and all controlled feedstock, coming from listed/approved suppliers, is considered low risk and SBP-compliant.

The supply base reports can be found here.