Bioenergy

Weyerhaeuser Uses Biomass to Cut Its GHG Emissions by 40%

Weyerhaeuser pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent by 2020 while also reducing its reliance on high-priced fossil fuels by using biomass leftover from its paper and pulp operations as a fuel in its facilities.

“We will do this by harnessing the benefits of a renewable, natural resource — biomass — as fuel in the boilers that generate steam and electrical energy in our mills,” said Ernesta Ballard, senior vice president, Corporate Affairs. Biomass fuel consists of bark, lignin (the substance that binds wood fibers) and other organics in spent pulping chemicals. When biomass comes from sustainably managed forests, burning it has a neutral effect on GHG emissions, states the release. The regenerating forest absorbs the carbon dioxide released by burning the fuel. By contrast, the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuel is not offset. Weyerhaeuser’s pulp and paper mills already generate 72 percent of their energy from biomass. This new initiative will raise this percentage, moderating the effects of volatile oil and gas prices. Pulp mills have the potential to become energy self-sufficient, states the release. Weyerhaeuser’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions are described in its 2005 sustainability report. According to the release, one of 2005’s accomplishments included obtaining certification that all of the forests it manages or owns in North America meet the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard or the Canadian Standards Association sustainable forest management standard. “What Weyerhaeuser has done is exemplary, and it deserves to be recognized,” said Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute. “Not only is the reduction of 40 percent one of the largest in the private sector, it is global in scope. As important, Weyerhaeuser is doing this in a way that makes a permanent difference — making changes in how their facilities operate.” A 40 percent reduction in annual greenhouse gases is the equivalent of taking 700,000 vehicles off the road for one year.