Why Being Woodsure Approved Is Good for Business

Over 200 woodfuel providers in the UK are now registered with Woodsure, the UK’s only quality assurance scheme for all wood fuel. One of Woodsure’s biggest advocates and the first heating wood pellet producer in England, James Little of Verdo Renewables, explains the benefits of becoming a Woodsure approved supplier for both business and customers. (Find out more about Woodsure)

Why Being Woodsure Approved Is Good for BusinessAfter starting out in the travel industry and setting up his own sustainable tourism business, Verdo Renewables’ James Little found his calling in the biomass industry while researching methods to heat a 500 year old cottage that he was renovating in his home county of Surrey. Despite being in the heart of a county rich with woodland, James found that pellets could only be purchased from overseas at this time. Seizing the opportunity to build a business on this niche, James secured a £92,000 Bioenergy Infrastructure Scheme grant from DEFRA, and was able to set up the first pellet production in England in 2008.

James comments: “After receiving the grant to establish wood pellet production in the Surrey Hills AONB, I worked with Surrey Hills Wood Fuel, Harvest Wood Fuels and LC Energy, before joining Verdo Renewables in September 2014.” His current role at Verdo Renewables as business development manager has seen James boost Verdo Renewable’s position as the only major ENplus A1 pellet producer/supplier in England (based in Andover, Hampshire). Also operating a factory in Grangemouth, Scotland, the company is keen to promote its production of Woodsure approved briquettes.

“I get incredible job satisfaction from working in the renewable energy industry. Woodfuel is also a more sustainable energy source due to the fact that it involves people to manage the forests/woodland, production and distribution, as championed by Woodsure,” says James. “As long as the entire process is well organised, the woodfuel industry has the potential to create new jobs, contribute to local economies and most importantly reduce our reliance upon fossil fuels. Being involved in a job driven by sustainability is important to me as I want to be able to say I have invested in our future on this planet.”

James is also working towards improving Verdo’s profitability to a sustainable position, whereby the business can invest in and grow the UK pellet and briquette production industry. As part of his role, James has also achieved the certificate of professional competence in transport management for pellet distribution and delivery. This enables James to operate delivery vehicles, providing him with an understanding of drivers’ needs to ensure smooth operation for the business.

Describing his daily routine, James says: “I am largely self-motivated and create my own work schedule focussing on achieving new business. As the primary producer of ENplus A1 wood pellets and briquettes in England, Verdo Renewables is synonymous with quality, and so we do benefit from a lot of word-of-mouth recommendations. To be both Woodsure and Grown In Britain certified gives customers another reason to be to assured that they are buying the best quality UK products that are environmentally friendly.”

Commenting on the business’s Woodsure accreditation, James says: “It made complete sense for Verdo to become Woodsure certified as it is a known and trusted quality assurance mark for woodfuel in the UK, aligned with Verdo’s mission. At Verdo, we feel it helps to give our customers peace of mind when purchasing our wood briquettes. In combination with the Grown in Britain mark, which supports the supply of sustainable British timber, we can guarantee our customers that they are buying the best quality pellets and briquettes available and supporting local businesses.”

Why Being Woodsure Approved Is Good for BusinessThe Woodsure stamp of approval means that woodfuel suppliers have been through rigorous checks and testing for quality and efficiency. James believes that more suppliers should invest in quality accreditation as it will then bring an end to the disruption in the industry caused by the importation of non-ENplus A1 accredited pellets to be used in boilers, which still qualify for the renewable heat incentive. “Now that the UK is a net importer of pellets, it is imperative that the quality of pellets brought into the UK matches the high standards of pellets manufactured here. Quality and sustainability should be considered equally, and the ability of importers to flood the market place with cheap, non-accredited imported pellets, is a dangerous development. Pellets which have been transported by ship in bulk have been handled several times and the poorer the quality, the more easily they will degrade.

“Poor quality pellets perform less efficiently, are more likely to cause boiler failures, incur higher maintenance costs and result in an altogether negative experience. Cheaper, non-accredited pellets also threaten the existence of UK based producers who have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in quality local production, but who have not yet been able to generate a profit.”

James adds: “During my 10 years in the industry, there has most definitely been a shift in consumer awareness around the importance of quality woodfuel. People have become much more interested in making conscious, sustainable decisions when it comes to heating their properties. Renewable energy is now an unstoppable force and so we need bodies like Woodsure to ensure the industry will be able to develop sustainably.”

For more information on Woodsure visit: www.woodsure.co.uk, for Verdo Renewables please visit: www.verdorenewables.co.uk

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