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The Voice of Canada’s growing pellet sector
  • Video: Heating with Wood Pellets

    Heating with wood pellets is an effective way to help in the fight against climate change.

  • Video: Wood Pellet Association of Canada

    Existing coal plants can be cost-effectively repurposed to use wood pellet fuel to help the environment and reduce air pollution.

  • Pellets

    Made from renewable forest byproducts and unmerchantable material, wood pellets from Canada provide a renewable, sustainable fuel source for generations to enjoy. | Read More

  • Sustainable

    Only 9% of the world’s forest are certified. Over 42% of them are in Canada, making it an ideal source for sustainable wood pellets. | Read More

  • Renewable

    WPAC members rely on sawmill waste and forest harvest residuals for the bulk of their fibre supply, allowing 100% resource use. | Read More

  • Fossil Fuel Alternative

    Whether on their own or co-fired with coal, wood pellets provide a lower carbon footprint and renewable energy source. | Read More

  • Innovative

    WPAC continues to support R&D in key wood pellet areas like safety, efficiency, fuel stability, energy content and more. | Read More

There are many safety and political issues in the wood pellet industry that need to be addressed, and the Wood Pellet association of Canada has just that goal in mind.

Wood pellet production is a $280 million/year industry in Canada and is continuing to grow as part of our bioeconomy.  Canada’s annual wood pellet production is about 1.4 million tonnes – roughly 14% of the 10-million-tonne global market.  The global market is predicted to approach 130 million tonnes/year by 2020.  Most Canadian pellets are sold in Europe as a coal substitute for electric power generation.  


Traditionally, Canadian sawmills used beehive burners to dispose of sawdust and other wood waste; they contributed significantly to air pollution.  Canadian regulators tried to outlaw beehive burners, but were unsuccessful because of threatened sawmill closures and job losses.  It took the wood pellet industry to develop a commercial use for sawmill waste and enable widespread shutdown of beehive burners.

Now, many sawmills have closed because of declining lumber prices.  Faced with dwindling sawdust supplies, most pellet producers now source a large portion of feedstock directly from the forest, using logging debris and even whole trees.

The Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) is the voice of the Canadian wood pellet industry.  Members are Canadian pellet producers, Canadian and international shipping companies, port operators and terminals, pellet customers/traders, industry suppliers, trade organizations, government agencies, and consultants.  A board comprising a representative from each producer member directs association priorities.  WPAC’s purpose is to be a strong industry advocate and to advance scientific and technical knowledge to enhance industry competitiveness.

WPAC began in the late 1990s as the British Columbia Pellet Fuel Manufacturers Association (BCPFMA).  In 2002, a carbon monoxide poisoning accident occurred in Europe on a vessel discharging pellets from Canada, killing one person and seriously injuring others.  BCPFMA members started developing safety instructions for handling pellets in large bulk, including upgrading shipping regulations under the International Maritime Organization.  The complexity of the technical issues and the serious exposure to the industry resulted in the formation of WPAC in January 2006.  WPAC initiated and funded a research project at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to understand off-gassing in wood pellets.  In early 2007, the UBC research released a comprehensive Material Safety Data Sheet that has been used since then.

Safety and research
In addition to off-gassing, large-bulk wood pellets present additional hazards, e.g., dust explosions, fire caused by self-heating, and lung injury.  WPAC and UBC are studying these issues to develop comprehensive safe engineering and operational practices recommendations.  Research is also done within WPAC and with collaborators from overseas research institutes, and other topics include pellet life cycle analysis, international standards for pellets and pellet quality testing, and development of second-generation solid biofuel.

Some of WPAC’s current initiatives include:

  • Educating government about negative effects of pulp and paper subsidies: The pulp and paper industry received $1.5 billion in 2005 and $1 billion in 2009, which gave it a tax-funded advantage over the pellet
  • industry in competing for fibre.  Using tax dollars to prop up the pulp sector harms the wood pellet industry.
  • Advising the Canadian government on a response to the U.S. Biomass Crop Assistance Program: The United States created a $45/ton feedstock subsidy for U.S. pellet producers, giving them an unfair advantage in world markets.  WPAC is advising on a potential response that doesn’t involve a pellet producer subsidy.
  • Facilitating insurance coverage: Frequent fires and dust explosions in pellet plants are causing some refusal of insurance for the pellet industry.  WPAC is developing best practices, audit procedures, and a certification system to reduce accidents and restore insurer confidence.
  • Negotiating with German/Austrian pellet associations: These associations are discussing a new pan-European pellet certification system, which could impede North American access to European residential markets.  WPAC is negotiating with the European associations to ensure that Canadian producers are treated fairly.

Originally published in Canadian Biomass - All rights reserved. Gordon Murray is executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada.  He can be reached at 250-837-8821 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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WPAC Safety Committee

To find more information about the WPAC Safety Committee and safety resources, please click here

Power Generation


Sustainable power

The vast majority of Canadian wood pellets are made from sawmill residuals - sawdust. The rest are made from the residuals from harvesting operations for sawmills and pulp mills, or low-grade timber from forest industry harvest sites that has no other economic value. Think firewood. Read more...

Breathing easier - pellet emissions vs coal

Sustainability should be top of mind for any company that wants to stay in the game in today’s world.

As important a role as Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions play, we also need to focus on noxious emissions versus coal.


Industry News


  • Growing value: after overcoming challenges, Skeena Bioenergy looks to the future

    As the forest industry increasingly recognizes the need to use as much fibre as possible, more and more sawmills are exploring the opportunity to produce wood pellets. One such sawmill is Skeena Sawmills, based in Terrace, B.C.  In 2018, the[…]

  • Critical report of Canadian logging practices are ‘misleading, flawed,’ say companies

    Criticism of Ontario’s and Quebec’s logging practices, made by the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), are misleading, say Resolute Forest Products, Domtar and Aditya Birla Group. NRDC’s report makes claims of overharvesting, leaving woodland caribou unprotected and not considering[…]


The Pellet Advantage

Efficient and Plentiful Production

Wood Pellet Association of Canada members are world leaders in the design and operation of modern pellet plants.


Innovating our way to a safer, better product

Wood pellets are a safe, reliable modern fuel. But they are still a fuel, requiring care in producing, shipping and storing.


Renewable and sustainable? Energy really can grow on trees.

There is no single energy source capable of solving our dependence on fossil fuels. Instead we need to look to a mix of new fuels, including wood pellets.


Argus Wood Pellet Index

US$ per metric tonneArgus Wood Pellet Index

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