Voices of Enviva

Enhancement, improvement, and accuracy—building a scalable, verifiable Track & Trace® system

Enviva’s Track & Trace® (T&T®) program is a cornerstone of our commitment to responsible sourcing. Launched in 2015, T&T is a proprietary program in which we work with our supply chain partners to document the origin and characteristics of all wood delivered from forest to facility. Because of T&T, we have comprehensive data on our wood supply, and can confirm that our sourcing is in line with the value we place on forests. This information is published quarterly on our website and is openly available for stakeholders to reference.

With over two years of reporting, our system continues to evolve to meet the demands of our stakeholders and our growing enterprise. Since the launch of this program, Enviva has welcomed two new mills into the fold and expanded our commitment to transparency through our Responsible Sourcing Policy. Our recent acquisition of the Greenwood facility and the construction of the Hamlet facility grew our sourcing region and subsequently increased the number of suppliers and associates who contribute to the program. And with construction of our next facility in Lucedale, Mississippi now underway, we are preparing for further expansion of our increasingly complex T&T system.

In the face of all this growth, we’ve invested in a few key program enhancements to ensure that Track & Trace scales along with our operations. As the primary source of information about the wood we use, the Track & Trace system’s quality, accuracy, and implementation is integral to Enviva’s sustainability decision-making, and thus the success of the company.

In 2018, we set out to perform a comprehensive review of the program with the goal of improving our data collection methods. Working with an international NGO with substantial expertise in sustainability standards and certification, we audited and then revamped the program and its procedures. We developed new tools to make sure our suppliers, the source of our information, clearly understand exactly what we need to know about our wood supply, and also put new systems in place so that a third- party expert could assess and confirm the accuracy of our data during an annual audit.

In early 2019, we began implementing these new procedures, which have strengthened the consistency, efficiency, and precision of the system. For example, one notable improvement we made was expanding the forest cover type options on our harvest questionnaire. Our previous list of definitions did not differentiate pine dominant forests that have hardwood trees in the understory from pine forests and forests with a mix of pine &

  • By: Emily Ulrich, Sustainability Analyst

  • November 14, 2019

  • Sustainability, Voices of Enviva

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  • Environmental Stewardship at Enviva

    At Enviva, environmental stewardship isn’t just an add-on, it’s foundational to our business. Moreover, it’s what our customers expect. We source wood sustainably from regions where forest inventories are growing, never source from a tract where land use change will occur, and take special care to avoid areas with high conservation value. Operating in this way, consistent with our values, allows us to meet the strict requirements of our customers and their regulators. If this weren’t the case, we wouldn’t sell a single wood pellet.

    Enviva’s business is growing, not despite our sustainability practices, but because of them.

    Our approach to environmental stewardship extends to other aspects of our business as well. We work hard to reduce the carbon footprint of our entire supply chain by siting facilities to minimize transport distances. We ship in large vessels to improve transport efficiency per ton.

    At our manufacturing facilities, we use every part of the wood we receive. Bark that cannot be used for pellets is used to fuel our dryers, and what is left over from that process is often used as fertilizer by local farmers.

    Another important issue is air quality. We know that when power utilities switch from coal to wood pellets they not only reduce carbon emissions by up to 85% on a lifecycle basis, they also reduce the levels of sulfur, lead, arsenic and mercury.

    But what about emissions at our own manufacturing facilities? As Enviva is growing and seeking to expand certain facilities and construct new ones, we require new environmental permits, and this permitting process – which typically includes opportunities for communities to weigh in – has given a small but vocal set of activist critics an opportunity to get press attention. Ironically, as activists use the air permitting process to protest the forest products sector, they are often delaying installation of air emission control equipment at our plants designed to minimize emissions from the wood-pellet manufacturing process and provide cleaner air for our communities.

    Here are some basic facts:

    Our manufacturing process involves drying wood, reducing the size of each piece, and pushing it through a pellet press at high pressure that causes lignin, the natural adhesive in the wood, to form a crisp sheath that keeps the pellet together. Our pellets are 100% plant matter and we use no chemicals in our process.

  • By: Yana Kravtsova, Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Chief Compliance Officer

  • July 22, 2019

  • Voices of Enviva

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  • Sustainably sourced biomass is a key player in the global energy transition

    This week our usual critics published an updated version of their annual “investigation,” where they follow trucks from Enviva mills back to harvest sites in an attempt to prove that the biomass industry generally – and Enviva specifically – is singlehandedly responsible for devastation in the forests of the U.S. Southeast.

    Let’s be clear: as the Executive Director of the Dogwood Alliance outlined in a recent op-ed in The Hill, this is part of a much broader campaign to end commercial logging altogether – and the roughly 2 million jobs supported by the industry – no matter whether the forest products are used for construction, sustainable packaging, or renewable energy.

     But where’s the devastation?

    It’s a serious question: I am an environmentalist, and I care deeply about the future of this planet, as does each and every one of my colleagues. We are facing a climate crisis and it’s up to every one of us to do everything we can to stop it.  Forests play a critical role – they are important stores of carbon, and if we’re going to mitigate the climate crisis, we’ve got to keep them that way. So, if this devastation were truly happening, I’d work as hard as I could to stop it. But it’s not.

    What these groups won’t tell you is that the rate of regrowth in the U.S. South actually exceeds the rate of harvest in these working forests. Forests in the Southeastern U.S. are adding carbon year over year – even while they provide 1/6 of the forest products that are used globally every year. And if you zoom in to Enviva’s sourcing regions, you see that the same thing holds true in the specific regions where Enviva operates – every year from 2011, when Enviva established its first U.S. mill, there has been more carbon in the forest than there was the year before.

    So where’s the devastation?

    The working forests in this region are providing livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of people and forest products for humankind the world over. And they are providing a source of baseload energy that can replace coal and enable an orderly transition to a renewable economy – all while continuing to store more carbon year over year. That’s absolutely amazing.

    No, really, where’s the devastation?

    Enviva created its Track &

  • By: Jennifer Jenkins

  • June 28, 2019

  • Voices of Enviva

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  • Raising the Bar with Verifiable Progress

    At Enviva, our business is about displacing coal and growing more trees. And when we say, “grow more trees,” we mean that we seek to be excellent forestland stewards and to help improve the health of forest ecosystems. We do that through our purchasing decisions, of course, but we also contribute to ecosystem health by doing other things – like helping to keep forests as forests; maintaining forest carbon stocks to help reduce the threat of global warming; conserving at-risk species and rare ecological communities; and helping landowners to engage in excellent forest management. 

    Our goal is to preserve the conditions that lead to a robust timber industry that includes biomass, operating within a healthy and vigorous forest landscape. To us, this means that working forests continue to provide a steady stream of products into the human economy, while at the same time biodiversity is protected with sufficient quality and quantity of habitat; endangered forests with special roles in the landscape are restored; and special or rare forests where logging isn’t appropriate are off-limits to harvest.    

    Enviva has worked since it was founded to develop a system of robust policies and procedures that we can use to make decisions about what wood to buy. More broadly, our sourcing and other practices are consistent with our core values of people and forests, as well as our values of accountability, integrity, discipline, and determination. It’s important to us that we do what we say we’re going to do, and our internal procedures, together with our investments in conservation, transparency, and supply chain tracking, have enabled us to make good on that commitment.

    Continuous improvement is part of our operating philosophy. Just over a year ago Enviva began an expansive and data-driven review of how we might revisit and update the policies and procedures that define what we stand for as stewards of the forest landscape. While our systems were working well, we wanted to create a clear and succinct policy that we will use to guide our actions going forward. This is helpful for us internally, because a succinct policy on feedstock sourcing will help us to manage our purchasing decisions as we grow. But it is important for us to communicate our policy externally as well, so that our stakeholders know what we stand for. We want to be transparent about what we plan to do and how we plan to do it,

  • By: Ben Larson

  • June 4, 2019

  • Voices of Enviva

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  • The Solution To Climate Change Grows On Trees

    The American public is tired of half measures on climate change. Seven in ten Americans want utility companies to completely overhaul their operations and generate 100 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewables in the near future, according to a new poll.

    That’s an ambitious goal considering that renewable energy accounts for just 17 percent of electricity generation today. Utility companies often claim an all-renewable future is impossible, since wind and solar only generate power when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. Utilities say they need a reliable energy source, like natural gas or coal, that can produce electricity at night and on calm days.

    Fortunately, there’s an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels — and utilities can use it around the clock. Wood biomass, trees and the parts of trees that the timber industry can’t use, is plentiful and reliable. And it helps utilities dramatically reduce their carbon footprint on a lifecycle basis.

    Replacing fossil fuels with wood biomass should be part of our overall approach to preventing catastrophic climate change.

    Climate change is primarily caused by a build-up of heat-trapping “greenhouse gases” like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Last year, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a comprehensive report detailing the potential consequences of global temperatures rising 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. It warned of more extreme weather events — including heat waves and droughts — rising seas, and risks to food and water supplies.

    Already, the planet has warmed roughly 1°C above pre-industrial levels. And that level keeps rising as we burn more fossil fuels — which emit lots of carbon dioxide.

    We don’t have much time left to prevent further temperature increases. That’s why Americans are so determined to drastically cut emissions by embracing renewable energy.

    There’s no shortage of talk about solar and wind energy. And rightfully so. These sources account for a growing share of U.S. electricity generation and help reduce emissions. But wood biomass also has an important role to play in the renewable energy revolution.

    Wood biomass is relatively simple to produce. Companies take wood that would have otherwise gone to waste — like limbs and sawdust — and grind it into wood pellets. Power plants can burn those pellets to generate electricity.

    Wood biomass is much more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.

  • By: John Keppler, CEO

  • April 5, 2019

  • Voices of Enviva

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  • The Value of “Senior” Employees

    In January 2018 I was hired as a Regional EHS Manager by Enviva after a nearly two-year search for full-time employment. This journey has been quite a learning experience, and I would like to share some lessons learned from my 30 years in industrial health and safety.

    First and foremost, I continue to advocate for the value of being a positive influence in life and, in particular, in the workplace. One of the benefits of being a “senior” professional is that I’ve lived a full spectrum of experiences. Since coming to work for Enviva, I’ve had to expand my knowledge in a sector of industry that I knew nothing about—wood pellet manufacturing for power plants in the U.K., EU, and Asia.

    Enviva is a leading global energy company specializing in sustainable wood biomass—and it’s the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, which provide sustainable, low carbon heat and power, replacing fossil fuels. Enviva owns and operates seven manufacturing plants in five states in the Southeast United States. These are 24/7 operations, and the men and women who work in these plants work 12-hour shifts with plenty of opportunities for overtime. It is hard work. Seasoned professionals have learned the detrimental impacts of low morale on productivity and safety. True leaders have learned a key lesson: If you take care of your people, they will take care of you.

    As a seasoned health and safety professional, I’ve learned not only to provide constructive feedback when employees are not strictly adhering to health and safety practices and policies, but also to provide positive reinforcement when employees are performing to the organization’s expectations. Too many times, employees hear from leaders only when they are underperforming. An experienced professional can be invaluable in shaping a leadership team’s approach to developing a culture that values the contributions of individuals for the success of the entire team.

    Whether an organization has an Operations Management System, Integrated Management System, or Operational Excellence Management System, a critical element is developing and sustaining a culture that underpins operational excellence by valuing individual contributors as key stakeholders. Over my three decades in industry, it has been my experience that front-line workers often feel undervalued simply because leaders will pass them in the workplace when they’re hot, sweaty, tired, or working in a difficult situation and not take the time to say,

  • By: Scot Rudolph

  • January 14, 2019

  • Voices of Enviva

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  • Collaboration Key to Expanding Longleaf Restoration in the Florida Panhandle

    Enviva is collaborating with state and federal agencies and non-profit conservation organizations to help restore the critical longleaf pine forest ecosystem around our Cottondale plant in Florida.

    Longleaf is a critical forest ecosystem for two reasons. First, it supports a wealth of plant and animal species—dozens of threatened and endangered species depend on the open-canopy pine savanna habitat that well-maintained longleaf ecosystems provide. Well-maintained longleaf stands are characterized by having widely-spaced trees that let enough light reach the ground to support a thriving, ‘understory’ plant community; both the pines and the understory plant community are adapted to and are even maintained by having low-intensity fires every few years. Without frequent fire, longleaf and other kinds of pine savannas get overgrown by brush and small trees that shade out the understory plant community.  

    Second, longleaf is critical because it’s been largely lost from the landscape, converted mostly to densely-planted pine plantations or farm fields. It was once the predominant forest ecosystem across the Southeastern coastal plain, extending from Southeastern Virginia down to Florida and across to Texas. Where longleaf forests once covered 90 million acres, now they only cover about 4 million acres.

    Because of its importance for wildlife diversity as well as its rarity, the longleaf ecosystem is the focus of a concerted restoration effort to restore eight million acres of longleaf in 15 years, involving state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, private landowner organizations, foresters, and some forest product companies.

    Enviva has supported longleaf restoration on public lands in an important way in recent years. We provide a market for the trees, tops, and limbs that are removed in two types of restoration operations. Existing longleaf stands often need to be thinned to improve their habitat quality and to get them back in a condition to have safe, low-intensity prescribed fires. And to re-establish longleaf where other types of forest now grow, public land managers sometimes need to remove the existing stands entirely.

    To date, we’ve purchased thinnings from longleaf stands at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and the Croatan National Forest in North Carolina, and we will soon start purchasing thinnings from the Geneva State Forest in Alabama, where almost 900 acres will be thinned over two years to improve the habitat for the threatened gopher tortoise.

    The gopher tortoise,

  • By: Ben Larson

  • December 13, 2018

  • Voices of Enviva

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  • Forest Area and Forest Inventory: Adding Greenwood to the Mix

    In the EU earlier this year, policymakers from the Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council laid out an ambitious political agreement, defining a renewable energy target EU-wide of 32% by 2030. The agreement also described sustainability criteria for bioenergy, explaining that biomass could be considered renewable (i.e. with stack emissions counted as zero) if that biomass is delivered from a supply base where carbon stocks are stable or increasing.1 In other words, based on input from key stakeholders, including scientists, environmentalists, academics, and industry groups, the EU’s policymakers and regulators concluded that the trend in forest inventory (which is linked directly to carbon stocks) across the forest sourcing area is the operative variable determining the lifecycle GHG emissions benefit associated with wood pellets. The bottom line is this: if regional forest inventory is stable or increasing, then EU policy finds that the GHG emissions from wood pellets are counted as zero at the stack.2

    Forest inventory has increased steadily South-wide for decades3, so this decision by EU policymakers ensures that bioenergy from the SE US will continue to help the EU meet its aggressive renewable energy targets. Between 1953 and 2015 the amount of inventory stored in Southern forests more than doubled, and forests in this region continue to be carbon sequestration powerhouses, adding more carbon every year than they had the year before, even after accounting for all of the forest products that the region produces every year. That’s because a healthy forest products market encourages landowners to invest in forests and in sound forest management.

    Because we know that inventory is what determines the GHG benefits of using wood pellets, we will focus more and more on that variable going forward. But this doesn’t mean forest area isn’t important – it is.

    Forests in the SE US are under threat from urban development and population growth, especially in rapidly-growing regions like the urban corridor between Charlotte and Atlanta (Figure 1). Experts agree that investment in forest products serves to keep forests as forests4, so when the forest products industry does not provide adequate compensation for forest owners, the likelihood of conversion increases. What’s just as important as that the inverse holds too:  when robust markets for forest products are there,

  • By: Jennifer Jenkins

  • December 7, 2018

  • Voices of Enviva

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  • How Wood Biomass Can Help Solve Climate Change

    The recent UN Report on climate change has put renewable energy back in the headlines, and rightly so.  If we want to avoid the most serious damage from climate change, we need an all-in approach, solutions that are available today, and policies that support our working forests.

    While solar and wind power are the most talked-about renewable solutions, bioenergy is a critical part of the mix – and one that is available right now.  As an alternative to coal, wood pellets help power utilities reduce their carbon footprint up to 85% on a lifecycle basis, often without undergoing major renovations to their existing infrastructure.  Power generation using biomass also provides a reliable, clean source of energy that complements the intermittency of wind and solar energy.

    The Guardian reported last week that “the capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago.”

    Bioenergy is making this possible.  Countries like the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Japan are increasingly turning to wood-based bioenergy.  Across Europe, biomass represents more than 60% of renewable energy consumption, and is widely seen as essential to the strategies for meeting ambitious carbon reduction goals.  That’s why The Economist recently noted: “if climate targets are to be met … it will be impossible without the contribution of a critical, yet often overlooked source of renewable energy: modern bioenergy.”

    Just as importantly, wood biomass – and strong demand for forest products — helps ensure forests stay forests.  Today, in the southeast U.S., private forest owners are growing 40% more wood than they remove every year.  Why?  Because additional demand raises the value landowners can get from keeping their land as managed forests.  Absent strong demand for wood, landowners have the incentive to convert their land for a higher return.  That could mean less environmentally beneficial agriculture, or worse – a housing development or a strip mall.   

    But, we also must recognize that not all biomass is good biomass.  How we source our wood is critical.  As the world’s largest producer of wood pellets with an expanding footprint, we take seriously our responsibility to maintain and improve forest health. Enviva uses industrial wood waste (like sawdust), or low-grade wood – including “thinnings,” limbs,

  • By: John Keppler, CEO

  • November 12, 2018

  • Voices of Enviva

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  • US Forest Service’s Inventory Program Supports Sustainable Forest Management in the US South

    FIA Data Confirm Forest Growth in US South Outpaces Harvesting Rates

    By Kim Cesafsky, Manager of Sustainability

    You may have noticed a few changes to Enviva’s Forest Trend Map page and Track & Trace (T&T) infographic after the latest T&T web release. Along with the usual details on our feedstock sourcing, we also added updated data from 2016 to the graphs which show forest landscape trends in the US South and in each of Enviva’s individual supply areas. This information comes from the US Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program, and it helps us illustrate a point that we at Enviva and others in the region’s forestry industry take pride in: the US South is a robustly forested landscape with a timber resource that’s growing far faster than its being harvested.

    Not many natural resource industries can boast a similar track record of prolonged sustainable management, and as FIA data support almost every forest-related policy and industry decision made in the region, the program is an important player in Southern forestry’s success story.

    Keeping tabs on over 250 million acres of forest is no small task, however. FIA field staff continuously collect detailed forest measurements from over 300,000 sample plots across the country (nearly 90,000 plots in the Southern region alone), with each plot being revisited about every seven years.1 The end product is a comprehensive forest inventory database that’s updated annually for each state.2

    At Enviva, we primarily use these data for monitoring forest conditions in our supply areas, and we just recently added new 2016 inventory data from FIA to our Forest Trend Map page. While data collected two years ago may seem to be far from current, the truth is that these estimates are actually quite accurate and useful for guiding decisions made today.

    The updated T&T infographic includes fresh estimates of forest area and inventory growth in Enviva’s combined supply area between 2011 and 2016. As 2016 FIA data wasn’t available for all Southern states when we ran this analysis, we substituted the most recently available 2015 or 2014 inventory data for Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Our new analysis shows that from 2011 to 2016 forest area in our combined supply area increased by approximately 323,525 acres.

  • By: Kim Cesafsky

  • April 18, 2018

  • Voices of Enviva

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