Case Studies

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Resource Extraction

Absorbent Products Leaves The Land Better Than How They Found It

  • Aug, 06 2013
  • Industry Sector:Resource Extraction


Absorbent Products Ltd. (APL) has been in operation since 1989 and is the sole producer of food grade diatomaceous earth in Canada, as well as one of only two producers of bentonite.

APL’s mine site near Red Lake, BC contains a unique, natural blend of diatomaceous earth and calcium rich montmorillonite that forms the basis of most of the company’s products. The materials mined from this site as well as a mine site in Princeton, BC are processed from raw minerals into finished products, all within the company’s processing plant in Kamloops, BC.

Absorbent Products has set out to operate in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. The company believes in sustainable development and strives to minimize the amount of land that is disturbed during their operations as well as to return all used land to its natural state and, in some cases, leave it more productive than surrounding areas that have not been disturbed.


In Absorbent Products’ efforts to create a sustainable future, they focus heavily on the reclamation of their mine sites.

In 2007, they purchased a 1000 acre ranch adjacent to their Red Lake property – land that is used for grazing cattle. When an area of the mine has reached the end of its production period, the area is reclaimed and continues its lifecycle as an addition to the ranch’s pasture lands, expanding the grazing land that is available.

As there are no rivers or streams in the company’s mine sites and their deposits do not generate any harmful leachates, APL is able to operate without disturbing land beyond the limits of their mine site.



Absorbent Products is currently ahead of schedule in completing mine reclamation. Due to these efforts and the incorporation of leonardite from the company’s deposit (the first known deposit in BC), reclaimed land, and surrounding areas that have been previously unusable, are often more productive than before the mining process.

Additional sustainability initiatives include:


  • Research and develop projects to develop products that utilize all mined materials. Most companies producing similar products will treat undersized material as waste however at APL it is packaged as a unique product or processed and recycled back into a standard product.  As a result, the company is able to use approximately 98 per cent of the material that is transported from their mines to their processing facility, reducing waste and minimizing and the amount of material that is required to be reclaimed.


  • Reduced electricity consumption by 6% and natural gas by 10% per tonne produced in 2002.


  • Reduced their carbon footprint by upgrading key pieces of equipment at their mine site.


  • Completed capital expenditures which will reduce natural gas consumption by at least 10%, with additional savings being possible.


  • Emissions that are well below Environmental and Air Quality permit levels, with only dust and water vapour being release from the plant. Dust emissions are approximately 50% of the level allowed in the company’s permits.


  • Continuous education and collaboration with business partners. Many of Absorbent Products’ employees have attended several courses on efficiency and emission reduction. As well, the company works together with their current packaging companies and other suppliers to review more environmentally friendly measures that can be taken during the production process.


  • Through the Climate Smart Initiative they were successful in achieving their emission reduction by 7% from their baseline last year. Reduction strategies completed include upgrades to T5 motion sensing lighting throughout the plant and warehouses as well as efficient machinery upgrades. Reduction strategies for the upcoming year have also been initiated and include major modifications to their dryer which will increase efficiency and reduce runtime and emissions.


  • As much product packaging as possible is fully recyclable.


  • Do not use excess packaging. When products are packaged they are bagged and shipped with the most minimal packaging possible, in an effort to reduce or eliminate waste.

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Resource Extraction

Waste-to-Energy Solutions with Diacarbon

  • Jun, 11 2013
  • Industry Sector:Resource Extraction


Biomass waste produced by forestry, agricultural, and urban sources is abundant, underutilized, and costly to dispose of. B.C. landfills are banning biomass waste in 2015, and there is a need for an alternative disposal plan. In Canada, the forestry industry produces in excess of 21 million bone dry tonnes of biomass annually with agricultural biomass available for energy estimated to be around 17.3 million BDT annually (Source: Climate Change Solutions - Canada Biomass Availability and Cost 2010).

At the same time, rising fossil fuel prices, government incentives (carbon tax/penalties, carbon markets) and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emission are key drivers for the growth in the global bio-energy market. However, biomass needs to be upgraded to be used as a replacement of fossil fuels. Because unprocessed biomass is bulky (often containing 40-60% moisture while having low energy density) there are inefficiencies associated with transporting biomass waste and its use as a biofuel. 


Diacarbon is a Canadian waste-to-biofuels company committed to providing innovative, yet practical and socially responsible technology. Diacarbon has developed the thermal biomass refinery (TBR), a patent pending auger-based system that uses torrefaction to convert biomass into commodity solid biofuels with favourable properties in view of logistics and end-use. Diacarbon’s TBR technology helps bridge the gap between the demand for biofuels and the abundant supply of biomass waste. Diacarbon provides a waste-to-energy solution that diverts waste streams while producing a carbon-neutral bio-coal that is a clean, direct replacement for coal.


The Diacarbon TBR is transportable, robust, a proven design, and of lower capital cost than competitors.

Diacarbon’s bio-coal will be sold to industrial heat and power producers as a drop-in fuel replacement for fossil coal, petroleum coke and other biomass alternatives. Bio-coal compares favourably with coal due to it having similar chemical and handling properties.  In this regard, bio-coal is superior to other forms of biofuels.

Additionally, the use of bio-coal requires little or no modification to existing infrastructure/assets which supports its use as a drop-in fuel replacement for coal and in turn, avoids the requirement for investment in additional equipment/infrastructure by the end-user.

Diacarbon has established a strong consortium including key stakeholders from industry, academia and government that are core to development of the company’s technology, products and market applications.

Diacarbon has successfully completed industrial scale co-firing of its bio-coal in a cement kiln application and will commission its commercial scale TBR through a demonstration project in 2014. The project will involve working with a large global cement producer and will provide key operational, technical, and financial data parameters necessary for commercial scale-out of deployments in the production and delivery of bio-coal.


Diacarbon’s strategy results in the diversion of biomass waste streams from landfills, and the creation of value out of waste, which would otherwise require costly disposal.

Using bio-coal as a replacement for coal (and co-firing bio-coal and coal together) by coal consuming industries would result in a significant reduction greenhouse gas emission because bio-coal is a carbon neutral fuel and burn much cleaner in terms of SOx and NOx emissions. It enables end-users to reduce their carbon tax/penalties while providing access to lucrative carbon markets.

The cement industry represents the majority of fossil fuel consumption in BC, and is subject to the BC carbon tax.  Currently the carbon tax is set at $30 per tonne of CO2 emitted, or approximately $75-90 per tonne of coal burned.  The replacement of coal with bio-coal is therefore advantageous not only due to its higher energy content and lower emission contaminants, but for being a carbon-neutral fuel that is not subject to the carbon tax. Assuming co-firing bio-coal at 25% and using 2008 consumption data  (each tonne of coal produces up to 2.906 tonnes of CO2e) with the prevailing BC carbon tax, cement producers in BC could have avoided more than $8 million in carbon tax, close to 270,000 tonnes of CO2e while achieving net benefits of ~ $3.3 million per year (Source: Energy Use & Related Data: Canadian Cement Manufacturing Industry (CIEEDAC 2012)). 

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Resource Extraction

Kellogg’s Sustainable Agriculture in Action

  • Apr, 23 2013
  • Industry Sector:Resource Extraction


Kellogg is committed to building a strong company and well-loved brands while doing what’s right for the environment and for society as a whole. The company recognizes it plays an important role in agriculture around the world and proudly rises to the challenges that come with it. Today, Kellogg is pushing boundaries to develop their products in a more sustainable way – a way that delivers shared results for their consumers, employees, communities and investors, as well as for the planet. 


Kellogg has made a commitment to understanding where its grains come from, how they’re grown, and their environmental impact. As such, they have developed strategies with sustainable agriculture as a focus.

Kellogg has invested in building relationships with growers, learning their practices and working together to drive future improvements for key ingredients and grains in particular—rice, corn and wheat.  


Rice is essential to the diets of much of the world’s population. Kellogg is a large user of medium-grain rice particularly in our Rice Krispies® cereals, Special K® and other beloved brands. Kellogg has invested for many years in rice breeding programs and partnerships, and we are starting to work more closely with some of the farmers who nurture our rice from seed to harvest.

In 2012 we launched a Rice Master Grower program together with rice farmers, the Louisiana Rice Mill and the Louisiana State University AgCenter. This practical, voluntary program:

·         Communicates information on good agronomic practices

·         Helps and encourages growers to adopt sustainable rice agronomic practices

·         Understands that rice production must be profitable in order to be sustainable

·         Recognizes growers participating in the program

Grower participants can earn a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze certification, depending on the extent of their participation, documentation of their practices, and demonstrable improvements in their practices.


Corn, or maize as it is known in most parts of the world, is an essential grain for much of the world’s population. For many of our brands, such as Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®, the quality of the corn grit – its hardness and uniformity – is specific and unique and requires special varieties of corn. We are therefore committed to investing in and supporting corn breeding, in order to achieve the attributes we require; we also work with corn growers and millers to help drive improvements in the sustainability of their agronomic practices.

In Nebraska, we are in our fourth year of work with corn farmers. These farmers have been inputting data regarding their farming practices (e.g., fertilizer use, irrigation, yields, etc.) into the Fieldprint Calculator. With four years of data, we are now beginning to identify and communicate best practices, to encourage more sustainable practices by all of the growers. Other partners in this work include Bunge (our supplier), the University of Nebraska and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service. We plan to expand this effort in 2013 to include corn farmers in Illinois.


Wheat is one of the most widely cultivated grains for human consumption. Just as consumers regularly use wheat flour in their home kitchens, we use wheat in almost all of our products and we are continually seeking ways to work with the farmers who grow this grain and the breeders who help to sustain and improve it.

In North America, we have visited with wheat millers and growers in North Dakota, Michigan and in Canada. In the U.K., we are just beginning a process of engagement with wheat growers.

In Canada, Kellogg is a member of the Ontario Cereal Industry Research Council, which is actively researching topics of precompetitive interest to wheat users in that province.


Efforts to reduce environmental impact through sustainable agriculture continue to be successful. In addition to sustainable agriculture, Kellogg has continued to make strides in its efforts towards lowering energy use, GHG emissions and water use by 15-20% between 2005 and 2015 and reducing waste to landfill 20% between 2009 and 2015. In recognition of its efforts, Kellogg Company ranked 36th on Interbrand’s list of the top 100 Best Global Green Brands and ranked 5th in the “fast-moving consumer goods” category.

As a company, Kellogg’s vision is to enrich and delight the world through foods and brands that matter. The inclusion of “the world” in that vision speaks to supporting and sustaining the planet. Our purpose is to nourish families so they can flourish and thrive. Fulfilling that purpose includes helping to ensure the sustainability of natural resources so the Earth can flourish and thrive as well.

To read more about Kellogg’s corporate responsibility efforts, visit the Corporate Responsibility tab on:

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Resource Extraction

Forest Products Association Of Canada

  • Feb, 05 2010
  • Industry Sector:Resource Extraction


The forest industry is directly and indirectly responsible for significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from harvesting activities, manufacturing, transportation and product disposal. At the same time forests, soils, biomass and forest products all have the potential to store carbon for varying degrees of time. Activities aimed at reducing emissions, increasing carbon storage and reducing reliance on fossil fuels can positively influence the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

FPAC and WWF-Canada both believe that providing leadership in sustainability and environmental performance will realize some of the greatest opportunities for the future of the forest industry. With this in mind, FPAC and WWF-Canada committed to use their collective resources and influence to effect positive change.


In 2007, FPAC commissioned a report by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) titled “The Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Profile of the Canadian Forest Products Industry”, making the Canadian forest products industry the first forest industry in the world to assess and report on its total carbon profile. The NCASI report would provide a foundation from which the industry could identify areas for continued progress and improvement. The NCASI report documented the forest products industry’s carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) profile which included three distinct parts: emissions, sequestration, and avoided emissions. The full text of the report will be available at:

To achieve their carbon-neutral commitment, FPAC members, working in partnership with key stakeholders including governments and environmental organizations, have pursued an aggressive strategy focused on:

1) Reducing direct and indirect emissions:

Becoming energy self-sufficient – the industry will continue to drive additional energy-efficiencies by switching from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources such as biomass.
Adoption of new more energy-efficient technologies.
Increased diversion of used forest products from landfills.
Increased use of landfill capping systems.
Increased cogeneration opportunities

2) Increasing the sequestration potential of forests and products:

Identifying opportunities to maintain and enhance carbon storage in forests through landscape planning and sustainable forest management practices.
Enhancing the pool of carbon stored in the value chain and minimizing emissions from end-of- life disposal.

3) Increasing avoided emissions:

Determining ways to maximize recycling of paper and wood products.
Understanding the carbon implications of wood-based materials in relation to available substitutes.

WWF-Canada and FPAC would use the best available information to inform the analysis and planning, and accounting protocols would be guided by the best relevant methods. Activities carried out in support of this initiative were not intended to presume the outcome of other related initiatives pertaining to climate change, including governmental measures and/or the development of protocols for project-specific tradable offsets.

Additionally, FPAC and WWF would propose certain measures that warrant further consideration as possible ways to reduce GHG emissions or enhance carbon sequestration. It is intended to identify those measures that show the most promise for additional benefits beyond business as usual projections. FPAC and WWF are working together to compile and summarize available information about their applicability, with a view to encouraging their implementation within the forest industry as well as across the forest products value chain.


Canada’s forestry sector saw the writing on the wall more than a decade ago and began to seriously address climate change – streamlining and modernizing operations, producing and using renewable fuels, developing bio-products .Forest biomass is Canada’s largest source not just of bio-energy but of renewable energy. It’s bigger than wind, solar and tidal combined.

The energy produced from forest biomass in pulp and paper mills today is sufficient to replace three nuclear reactors and to power the City of Vancouver for a year. Additionally, Forestry companies have reduced emissions ten times Kyoto targets or by 60 percent- 8 million tonnes removed from the atmosphere. But the work continues.


Resource Extraction

Sustainable Forestry Initiative

  • Feb, 05 2010
  • Industry Sector:Resource Extraction


Sourcing Responsible Forest Products

There is increasing concern over the state of our forests globally. This is especially a concern in areas of the world where illegal logging and overcutting are very real problems, especially in areas that lack the legal framework or the capacity to enforce laws. As a result, paper and wood products sourcing is coming under increasing scrutiny. More and more, governments and businesses are using forest certification as tool to determine the legality and sustainability of products and to demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility. In addition, forest certification is also becoming an important tool in the climate change sphere as well-managed forests play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Despite the successful uptake of forest certification by the market place, only 10% of the world’s forests are certified, more than half of those forests are in North America and Europe.


Make a Difference in the Forest and On the Store Shelf

1. Develop a tool to encourage responsible forestry: Voluntary third-party forest certification began in the 1990s in response to market concerns about forest management and illegal logging, primarily in developing countries. Today, there are more than 347 million hectares of certified forest land worldwide, certified under more than 50 different standards. Forest certification programs are based on principles and measures that promote sustainable forest management and consider all forest values: environmental, social and economic. It includes regular audits by third party, internationally accredited auditors. The certification also extends to the market. When consumers see the certification label on a product, they can be confident they are buying wood or paper from responsible sources – whether it is reams of paper, packaging, furniture or building products. In North America, there are four forest management standards: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management Standard (CSA), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the American Tree Farm System. Together they make up 189 million hectares, or nearly 55% of the world’s total certified forests.

The Canadian Council of Forest ministers says “The forest management standards of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) are all used in Canada. Governments in Canada accept that these standards demonstrate, and promote the sustainability of forest management practices in Canada.”

2. Businesses can change the world: Forest certification helps businesses and governments to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and support sustainability. This is achieved in two ways: 1) developing inclusive procurement policies that give preference to products that come from certified sources and 2) putting the forest certification label on the product. By doing this, businesses are sending a message to forest owners and managers worldwide to manage forests responsibly and to prove this by being certified.

This also means that the consumers can feel confident that the product they are purchasing comes from a responsible source. Whether it is the SFI or FSC label on a product, the label provides a critical link from the product on the shelf, whether it’s office furniture or the packaging on your favourite product, back to the forest.

3. The importance of product labelling: Forest products are one of the few consumer products out there that come with independent auditing, certification and a label to verify claims. This is important in a market filled with “green” claims. In fact, the Competition Bureau of Canada and the Federal Trade Commission of the US are increasingly concerned with the plethora of “green” labels in the market place. In its Environmental Claims: a Guide for Industry and Advertisers, Canada’s Competition Bureau encourages consumers and businesses to look for forest products “that were certified to a sustainable forest management standard,” and specifically cites the three standards in Canada: SFI, CSA and FSC. This is because forest certification, from the forest to the label, provides third party auditing against publicly available standards developed through multi-stakeholder processes.

A 2008 study by Terrachoice Environmental Marketing (which oversees the EcoLogo ® program) polled 336 customers and 91% felt that green-washing is a problem that needs to be address. 72% of the respondents agreed that eco-labels help purchasing decisions and the majority also felt that having a choice of eco labels was important. The SFI and FSC labels were included in purchasers’ top ten most used eco-labels. In its most recent report, released April 2009, Terrachoice lists the SFI and FSC labels among the most widely recognized credible eco-labels, and notes it meets three key criteria: 1) third party certified 2) publicly available standard and 3) transparent standard development process.


Demand for Forest Certification is Growing!

Over the past few years there has been unprecedented growth in companies seeking forest certification or certified fibre. One only has to look at the growth of the SFI program over the past years to see this trend. The United Nations also reported among forest certification programs, SFI has the largest growth globally. For example, over the past year SFI has experienced:

forest land certified up from 60.5 million hectares to 71.6 million hectares (an 18% increase in North America; a 28% increase in Canada alone)
chain of custody certificates up from 359 to 760 certificates (112% increase)
certified locations up from 919 to 1714 (87% increase)
And two years ago SFI was approving 5 labels a year; now it is approving 10 labels a day!


Paper and wood products are one of the few products out there that come with independent, third party certification. With North America’s leading role in forest certification, businesses can provide their customers with ways to make responsible choices when it comes to the products on their store shelves. This is an important and proven successful tool when it comes to consumers who are increasingly concerned about the environmental footprint of the products they buy and use. Businesses and consumers can make a difference when it comes to our forests and our communities and one way they can do this is by purchasing certified forest products or products that come in packaging from responsible sources.

About the presenter

Kathy Abusow is the CEO and President of the SFI program. She has worked in the field of forest certification for over 15 years and has worked with programs such as the CSA, FSC and PEFC programs. Today she is head of the SFI program, an independent, non-profit organization committed to responsible forest management through its internationally recognized and accepted forest management program.