One of Latvia's largest softwood sawmill companies, AKZ SIA, has earned a Sustainable Biomass Partnership (SBP) certificate for its wood pellet production. AKZ relies on FSC certified material and FSC Controlled Wood to prove the responsible origin of their feedstock.
The Latvian company AKZ has earned certification for its biomass products according to the requirements of the Sustainable Biomass Partnership (SBP), a European initiative that supports sustainable solid biomass supply chains contributing to a low-carbon economy.
FSC certification eased the process
The SBP scheme is spearheaded by seven leading European energy producers. SBP certification is tailored to help biomass suppliers and energy producers meet European government regulations and industry standards.
The certificate earned by AKZ is only the world's third SBP certificate. AKZ already held FSC chain of custody (COC) certification and the company exclusively uses FSC and FSC Controlled Wood feedstock.
The company sources FSC certified and FSC Controlled Wood from Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus, and only FSC certified timber from Russia.
“AKZ has long been committed to sourcing responsible feedstock. Their engagement in FSC certification has eased their work to meet key SBP requirements related to traceability and responsible origin of the feedstock”, observes Olesja Puiso, Director of NEPCon Latvia. She explains that the main area of new challenges for the company was SBP’s requirements for carbon and energy calculations.
AKZ exclusively uses its own sawmill residues for pellet production. This was another major advantage in the company’s SBP certification process, as this provides for easier access to information on the origin of the biomass used for the drier and of the feedstock used for producing pellets.
Biomass buyer demands bolsters the value of FSC certification
The incentive for AKZ to earn the SBP certificate came mainly from one of its buyers, the Danish trading company CM Biomass, which manages a global trade of approximately one million tonnes of wood pellets a year. CM Biomass already has an FSC CoC certificate in place and is currently engaged in their own SBP certification process.
As part of its corporate strategy to expand its range of certified products, CM Biomass has employed a full-time sustainability specialist, Rens Hartkamp.
His role is to help the company manage its SBP certification process and to assist a large number of their pellet suppliers, including AKZ, in gaining FSC and SBP certification.
Mr. Hartkamp notes, “Most pellet suppliers need extensive guidance throughout the process. AKZ, however, handled SBP certification almost independently. The company uses FSC certified feedstock and succeeded in achieving SBP within two months.”
Ms. Puiso comments, “The push for SBP certification of biomass provides added value to FSC and PEFC certification throughout the supply chains and back to the forests. In the case of AKZ, this demand from the energy sector further bolsters the benefits they already experience from their FSC CoC certificate.”
Photos © CM Biomass
AKZ Ltd. is one of the largest softwood sawmills in Latvia with an annual production of about 225,000 m3 of sawn goods. The company provides work for 210 employees. AKZ’s production includes solid timber products, pulp chips, and wood pellets. The company exports its products to Europe, North Africa and Asia.