Topics

Our Dirty Legacy #charcoal


ROBERT W GILLETT
 

One obstacle to growing the biochar industry is the polluting and ecological damage rightly attributed to charcoal production. Higher standards are not enough by themselves. Monitoring and sanctions are necessary to maintain these standards. A new study using 3-D reflected light microscopy to identify origins of charcoal imported to Europe shows that the charcoal industry still needs to clean up their act. We need not only to differentiate biochar from charcoal, but also to effectuate and maintain an entirely cleaner and more sustainability-conscious culture and image. Biochar companies who merge with or rely on the charcoal industry supply chain should be wary of what they are getting and transparent in their product labeling.

Robert Gillett


Frank Strie
 

Hello Robert Gillett and all,
The point you are making is about the source of  feedstock, accreditation and quality assurance in the holistic sense.
As I see it, we as a vertically integrated business based in Tasmania / Australia, we are using a complex systems approach to address quality assurance on the holistic not one  or two product outcomes.
but a circular supply chain of industries, local community needs, local & distant customer expectations/ trade of the whole value chain of Biomass management, harvesting, transport logistics, also the choice of  low tech & high tech, small to large scale  
Pyrolysis, Gasification should be  Woody Weed Management, Restorative & Regenerative Forest Landscape Management,  via Co-generation of Thermal Energy, Biogas, Power  and Biochar, FeedChar, FiltrationChar, ConstructionChar, CharAsphalt , CharCrete, CharPolymer, and specialised DesignerChars such as Magnetised Char and even Charcoal for energy be that  industrial use or cooking fuel.
Rather than as you suggest to “differentiate Biochar from charcoal” (or even compost), as we are part of a circular bioeconomy and a local community, biomass related industries need to resolve the complex issues together.
There is only one Earth and the climate situation is a global issue, not one industry or two…
To bring it to the point two examples that are current, and we continue to consider our own situation :

Example from South Africa:  https://lesedins.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Sod-Turning-Presentation_-2.pdf

Example from Europe: http://www.biochar-industry.com/news

BioChar goes REACH

11.08.2020

“A cooperation of REACHECK Solutions, the Leading Registrant of Charcoal, and EBI has brought a breakthrough for BioChar in Europe.
Soon BioChar can be registered under the existing REACH dossier of Charcoal.
Known inter-European trade barriers for BioChar will therewith become history”


http://www.biochar-industry.com/about

https://www.european-biochar.org/en/c-sink
https://www.european-biochar.org/media/doc/2/c_en_sink-value_5.pdf

Regenerative Agriculture, Restorative Forest Management, Circular Bioeconomy, Education, Training, Design, Manufacturing and Logistics go together even with recreation. Brand Certification is included in all these as well.
Frank Strie

www.terrapretadevelopments.com.au
 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of ROBERT W GILLETT
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 7:11 AM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] Our Dirty Legacy

 

One obstacle to growing the biochar industry is the polluting and ecological damage rightly attributed to charcoal production. Higher standards are not enough by themselves. Monitoring and sanctions are necessary to maintain these standards. A new study using 3-D reflected light microscopy to identify origins of charcoal imported to Europe shows that the charcoal industry still needs to clean up their act. We need not only to differentiate biochar from charcoal, but also to effectuate and maintain an entirely cleaner and more sustainability-conscious culture and image. Biochar companies who merge with or rely on the charcoal industry supply chain should be wary of what they are getting and transparent in their product labeling.

Robert Gillett


ROBERT W GILLETT
 

Frank,

Interesting that the registration of biochar in Europe now falls to the same outfit that registers charcoal. Given that the Nature article I cited and the study that it was based on covered the European charcoal industry, this is especially disconcerting. I wonder if this presages a takeover of the fledgling biochar industry by Big Charcoal.

Robert


ROBERT W GILLETT
 

Hi Frank,

To retain the original points I made in our conversation, I reverted to the original topic and copied your most recent response below. 

Thank-you for pointing out the EBC criteria. I found relevant aspects in paragraph 2.4: 

"If the climate neutrality of a forest is not ensured by the official LULUCF reports of the EU member states or by regional legislation, proof can also be provided by Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. Otherwise, the forest wood is not accepted as biomass input for the production of EBC certified biochar. Accordingly, no EBC C-sink potential of biochar produced from that biomass can be certified."

I heartily endorse this certification and your view on holistic management.

Yet, the reality is, according to the report in Nature that many charcoal suppliers are sourcing feedstock from tropical and sub-tropical forests which makes their sustainability much more suspect and the majority of those in Belgium, Spain, Poland, and Italy do not have a sustainability certification.

While that does not implicate the entire charcoal industry, it is bad PR and biochar producers are probably lumped together in the public mind with this dirty business. Hence, lending even more importance (than simply fitness-for-use) to differentiating biochar from charcoal and having the certification to back up claims of holistic environmental stewardship.

Best, 
Robert




 Frank Strie
Sep 22   

Robert,
It is important to read the material developed by EBC as it puts very clear emphasis on  the chain of custody aspects. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification process and things like Organic Certification etc. may not be perfect in every place and country, as they obviously involve people and industry players of all walks of life and culture, the fact is they are processes that involve communication processes and regular refinement processes  in the social, environmental and commercial aspects. As we deal with local customers of our Biochar products, people can and do come to our property to see how our Biochar works and how we use it. The Equipment we use and the feedstock we use can be traced. Now that we export the equipment around the country we get feedback from these growing number of clients at various scales.
When it comes to wood used in Biochar and Charcoal and Bioenergy production we strongly support and practice the management principles  developed and practiced over 7 decades by ProSilva 
https://www.prosilva.org in by now at least 26 countries so far.
As a ProSilva style Forester myself and long-time Member of the ANW Germany / ProSilva organisation, as a former founding director of FSC Australia,  and ongoing IBI member, I (like to) collaborate with likeminded individuals and groups and companies around the world, rather than to point to shortcomings and mistakes of others, we try to and demonstrate what can be done by systematic and holistic planning and action. The EcoModelRegion Kaindorf in Austria is working on just that agenda how to bring all the stakeholders together and think and practice optimisation for all, from the little children and families, producers, consumers, manufacturers and traders.
You may like to check out this example from the IBI excursion in June 2018:
https://www.terrapretadevelopments.com.au/excellent-short-video-about-the-project-in-norway-on-the-excursion-to-austria

In summary,  considering the many pressing issues and emergencies in 2020 and the growing awareness  to develop solutions to climate, soil, carbon actions that stand the test of time, incl. waste upcycling, we (as a network) should focus on whole quality in our actions and discussions.
We need to show our ‘glocal’ communities  and future generations the way forward .
Here a nice way to approach things at every scale:

 

Holistic Decision Making and Policy Development Explained simply in less than 10 minutes!
568 views   •Feb 18, 2020

Be the change you want to see in the world.
Holistic Management: connecting everything because everything is connected.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_EucgpoL5c&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1N7GtSiIGm_19Dx0wt8XG8tkmYbOhqRF96R32a7WzGvMSd5w9K0TEt1D8


Until next time
Frank



Kathleen Draper
 

Hello all - 
I asked Harold Bier, Head of Office for the European Biochar Initiative to join this group and respond to this thread to provide context around why this was done. It might take a day or two but I think it is important to understand the rationale here.

Cheers
Kathleen


Frank Strie
 

A very good move Kathleen, thank you.
Cheers
Frank

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Kathleen Draper
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2020 1:11 AM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Our Dirty Legacy

 

Hello all - 
I asked Harold Bier, Head of Office for the European Biochar Initiative to join this group and respond to this thread to provide context around why this was done. It might take a day or two but I think it is important to understand the rationale here.

Cheers
Kathleen


Kevin Chisholm
 

Hi Robert

 

It has been said that “Every Biochar is different”. That would imply that “Biochar X” is beneficial to “Soil condition #1”, while “Biochar Y” would be beneficial to “Soil Condition 2”

 

Is there a way to differentiate the various properties of charcoal, so that they could be categorized as a “Type 1 Biochar”, a “Type 2 biochar”, etc, and then to connect them with “Soil Conditions where they would give the Grower best results”?

 

With such a “Categorization” “charcoal” would not be Biochar” until it was such designated.

Thanks!

 

Kevin

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of ROBERT W GILLETT
Sent: September 22, 2020 6:11 PM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] Our Dirty Legacy

 

One obstacle to growing the biochar industry is the polluting and ecological damage rightly attributed to charcoal production. Higher standards are not enough by themselves. Monitoring and sanctions are necessary to maintain these standards. A new study using 3-D reflected light microscopy to identify origins of charcoal imported to Europe shows that the charcoal industry still needs to clean up their act. We need not only to differentiate biochar from charcoal, but also to effectuate and maintain an entirely cleaner and more sustainability-conscious culture and image. Biochar companies who merge with or rely on the charcoal industry supply chain should be wary of what they are getting and transparent in their product labeling.

Robert Gillett


ROBERT W GILLETT
 

Kevin,

If a legacy charcoal company markets any of their product as biochar, they should be subjected to close scrutiny for the kinds of behaviors exposed in this breaking analysis of several European charcoal companies. 3-D reflected light microscopy may be the best way. They should also be FSC certified or equal. Meanwhile, the biochar industry should be aware of the environmentally detrimental baggage that accompanies any association (real or perceived) with the charcoal industry.

Best,

Robert


Tom Miles
 

If you look at the 850,000 tons of barbecue charcoal traded in the US you will find different supply chains than Europe. There may be some similarities in the area of imported lump charcoal. We have many sources of imported carbonized materials. 

The major charcoal producers are well aware of the differences between charcoal and biochar. They have been in contact but Not engaged in Biochar markets until the last few years when briquette markets have declined and biochar markets have improved. There has also been consolidation in charcoal production in the last few years, especially in Missouri and Texas. 

T R Miles Technical Consultants Inc.
tmiles@...
Sent from mobile. 

On Sep 24, 2020, at 7:05 AM, ROBERT W GILLETT <themarvalus.wabio@...> wrote:

Kevin,

If a legacy charcoal company markets any of their product as biochar, they should be subjected to close scrutiny for the kinds of behaviors exposed in this breaking analysis of several European charcoal companies. 3-D reflected light microscopy may be the best way. They should also be FSC certified or equal. Meanwhile, the biochar industry should be aware of the environmentally detrimental baggage that accompanies any association (real or perceived) with the charcoal industry.

Best,

Robert