Nordic pulp makers seek new lease of life from by-products

By Anna Ringstrom
Nordic forestry firms racing to replace paper business lost to the internet are trying to transform their pulp mill by-products into glue, biofuel and carbon fiber for aircraft and wind turbines.

A new generation of energy-efficient pulp mills are allowing the likes of Stora Enso, UPM-Kymmene, Metsa Group, SCA and Holmen to look for more profitable uses for by-products they have traditionally mostly burned to help power the mills.

Growing global demand for fossil-free materials is also helping to spur the innovation.

Much of the research is at an early stage, and many companies have not even decided which markets to target.

But after years of painful restructuring, some investors are starting to hope the industry could get a new lease of life.

“If they can develop new materials to replace fossil based materials, the market is endless for them,” said Sasja Beslik, head of sustainable finance at Nordea, one of the Nordic region’s biggest asset managers and Stora Enso’s seventh largest shareholder.

One early success story has been Stora Enso’s work with kraft lignin – a refined version of lignin, a substance which accounts for at least a quarter of wood and binds tree fibers together.

The Finnish company opened a kraft lignin plant in 2015, the first of its kind in the region, using a new technology developed in Sweden and marketed by Finland’s Valmet, and decided to focus on using the material as a replacement for petroleum-derived phenols in glue.

Source: Nordic pulp makers seek new lease of life from by-products – Reuters, 2017-0310

Government of Canada Announces Task Force on Softwood Lumber

Canada’s forest sector is vital to a strong Canadian economy. Enhanced collaboration between federal and provincial governments will help to keep our forest sector, and the workers and communities that depend on it, strong and resilient.

Today, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, announced the creation of the Federal–Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber, which will share information and analysis to understand potential impacts and assess how to address the needs of affected workers and communities. Minister Carr will chair the domestic task force, while Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, leads softwood engagement with the United States.

There has been ongoing engagement with the provinces, territories and industry over the past two years as the Government of Canada has sought to negotiate a new deal with the U.S. on softwood lumber. This is the next step in our strategic approach to this issue, which strengthens our ongoing efforts on a priority file for the Government. Canada believes that a negotiated agreement that brings predictability and stability to industry on both sides of the border is the best possible outcome. The Government will continue to work closely with provinces, territories and the softwood lumber industry to vigorously defend the interests of the middle-class Canadians who depend on the industry. This work will continue outside of the task force.

The new Federal–Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber will assess current federal and provincial programming and ensure coordination of government initiatives to promote innovation, market diversification and transformation of the forest sector.  

The forest sector is an important part of Canada’s economy. It directly employs more than 200,000 people across Canada. Softwood lumber exports were valued at $8.6 billion in 2015 — close to 70 percent of which was exported to the U.S.

Source: Government of Canada Announces Task Force on Softwood Lumber  – Canada.ca, 2017-02-22

Forest Stewardship Council cuts ties with Austrian timber giant over illegal wood

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) today announced its decision to immediately disassociate from the Austrian timber giant Holzindustrie Schweighofer (Schweighofer), one of its largest members, due to the company’s persistent and indiscriminate sourcing of illegal timber in Romania. The decision follows a year-long investigation by an FSC Expert Panel, which concluded that Schweighofer had created a business “culture” favoring cheap wood over legal wood in its Romanian sourcing.

Source: Forest Stewardship Council cuts ties with Austrian timber giant over illegal wood, EIA comments – Business Wire, 2017-02-17

Resolute CEO confident he can convince U.S. on softwood lumber dispute

By ROSS MAROWITS
The head of Eastern Canada’s largest lumber producer said he is confident he can demonstrate to American authorities this month that the region deserves free and unencumbered access to the U.S. market.

The forestry sectors of Ontario and Quebec are modelled after the market-based systems in the U.S., and that should convince the U.S. Commerce Department that the region doesn’t engage in the unfair trade of softwood lumber, Resolute Forest Products Inc. CEO Richard Garneau said.

“So based on this, I think that we deserve the right to have access in Central Canada – in Quebec and Ontario – to the U.S. market,” he said in an interview after Resolute released its fourth-quarter and 2016 results.

The Montreal-based company was recently selected by the U.S. Commerce Department – along with B.C. companies West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., Canfor Corp. and Tolko Industries – to provide details on how they operate as part of its investigation into alleged unfair trade.

The producers are required to respond to a questionnaire by the end of the month. A U.S. auditor will then visit the four companies for follow-up.

Source: Resolute CEO confident he can convince U.S. on softwood lumber dispute – The Globe and Mail, 2017-02-02

European Wood Pellet Market Potential

By Hannes Lechner & John Dawson-Nowak
In 2016, the wood pellet market in Europe reached a size of 19 million tons per annum (Mtpa), while production capacity stood at 23.5 Mtpa, and consists of two largely independent sectors with only limited interaction. The industrial market is focused on large-scale bioenergy generation, while the premium market is focused on small-scale residential and commercial heat generation.

Besides more growth potential in the industrial market to 2025, the likely expansion of the premium sector post-2020 offers an opportunity for North American producers to soften the impact of predicted demand decline for industrial pellets post-2027.

Source: European Wood Pellet Market Potential – Biomass Magazine, 2017-01-08

Harvest of residual biomass unlikely to create jobs

The use of residual forest biomass for rural development faces significant economic hurdles that make it unlikely to be a source of jobs in the near future, according to new research by economists from Oregon State University.

In a model of the forest industry, researchers in the College of Forestry combined an evaluation of costs for collecting, transporting and processing biomass with the potential locations of regional processing facilities in western Oregon.

Each location was chosen because it is adjacent to an existing or recently-closed wood product operation such as a sawmill or plywood manufacturing plant.The study, published in Forest Policy and Economics, focused on biomass generated during timber harvesting operations. Biomass consists of branches and treetops that are generally left in the woods or burned. In some highly accessible locations, these residues are ground up or chipped and used to make a product known as “hog fuel.”

“There’s a lot of interest in focusing on the use of biomass to meet multiple objectives, one of which is support for rural communities,” said Mindy Crandall, who led the research as a doctoral student at Oregon State and is an assistant professor at the University of Maine. “We thought this might provide some support for that idea,” she said. “But from a strictly market feasibility perspective, it isn’t all that likely that these facilities will be located in remote, struggling rural communities without targeted subsidies or support.”

Source: Economics of forest biomass raise hurdles for rural development, new study finds | Bioenergy Insight Magazine, 2017-01-05

U.S. ITC Rules Material Injury on Canadian Lumber Imports


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The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled there is a reasonable indication that softwood lumber imports from Canada materially injure the U.S. industry. How significant is this ruling to the trade dispute between the two countries? Joshua Zaret, senior industry analyst for packaging, paper and paper products, Bloomberg Intelligence speaks on The Daily Brief. (Source: Bloomberg)

Source: U.S. ITC Rules Material Injury on Canadian Lumber Imports – Bloomberg, 2017-01-09

Wood pellet trade doubles over 5 years, driven by biomass power

As the world works to replace fossil fuels, wood pellets are playing a key role in decarbonizing power grids. European nations, in particular, have invested heavily in pellets for both heating and electricity generation. To supply this increased demand, global trade in pellets has doubled since 2012, with U.S., Canadian and European producers all playing a role. How this supply stream may evolve is the focus of the European Pellet Supply and Cost Analysis, a new study from RISI, an information provider for the global forest products industry.

Source: Wood pellet trade doubles over 5 years, driven by biomass power | Biomassmagazine.com

A Maine firm wants to use cellulose in eco-friendly ceiling tiles

By CATHERINE KAVANAUGH
A 2-year-old Maine start-up called Revolution Research Inc. was awarded a $100,000 federal grant to support its development of eco-friendly ceiling tiles made of a cellulose-based polymer.

Nadir Yildirim, president of the Orono-based business, said his small staff is using forest-based raw materials and nanotechnology to create a product that is durable, has high insulation properties, and can be composted. His goal is to achieve a 90 to 95 percent recycle rate for an industry seeking sustainable management of construction and demolition (C&D) materials.

Source: A Maine firm wants to use cellulose in eco-friendly ceiling tiles – Plastics News

Freres Lumber’s massive plywood panels could revolutionize construction

By Robert Dalheim
Freres Lumber Co. hopes its new-to-market, veneer-based massive plywood panels will revolutionize construction.

The Oregon-based manufacturer announced its new veneer-based panels in October after more than a year of development and performance testing at Oregon State’s Advanced Wood Products Laboratory. Freres says the panels, known as Mass Plywood Panels (MPP), could be used for floors and walls in multi-story commercial buildings, and they could be made to order.

Designed to be an alternative to cross-laminated timber, Freres’ massive panels can be as much 12-feet wide, 48-feet long and 2-feet thick.

Freres says there are many potential benefits:Structures made of MPP could be made in days instead of months, says Freres, and use 20-30 percent less wood than cross-laminated timber. The lightweight nature of MPP could reduce truckload transport costs. Large format panels could be manufactured at a facility to include window, door, and all other required cut-outs – minimizing waste and labor on the job site.

Source: Freres Lumber’s massive plywood panels could revolutionize construction | Woodworking Network