What’s in a wood pellet?

April 23, 2020

Like many people, wood pellets are not a topic I expected to cover when talking about forests and the climate. I’ve always associated these small pellets with stoves for home heating or, in the case of my first volunteer position at a local animal shelter, with kitty litter.

As it turns out, wood pellets are part of a broader industry push to use forests for fuel. The results are devastating for forests and biodiversity, as well as our ability to avoid climate catastrophe.

Wood pellets can be made from a variety of wood fibre inputs: everything from sawdust to trees. Large materials like trees are ground up to be small enough to process. The fibres are dried out and packaged neatly into small pellets, which can then be shipped in bulk to market.

So what’s the issue? Well, frankly, it’s preposterous that trees are being converted into wood pellets. And in British Columbia, no less, we’re seeing huge cedars and trees from globally rare, intact forest being trucked into pellet plants.

In British Columbia, the majority of our wood pellets are exported instead of being used domestically. That’s because demand from key countries, namely the U.K. and Japan, is soaring.