Blog post: The true cost of wood pellets - the cheap option with the hidden costs. Image showing a boat full of shipping containers and a plane representing overseas imports.

The True Cost of Wood Pellets

The ‘Cheap’ Option with Hidden Costs

Price matters – we get that, but how much do you really know about the true cost of wood pellets? We all want a good deal, especially with rising energy prices and the cost of living. But when it comes to wood pellets, chasing the lowest price could cost us far more in the long run. Have you ever considered the hidden costs of those imported pellets? Let’s talk about the real impact on our environment, our economy, and the future of our forests.

Sustainability: The Hidden Price Tag 

Here at SDL Solutions, we are fully certified with the FSC. That means that every single log comes from responsibly managed FSC-certified forests within the UK. With imported pellets, you could be inadvertently fueling unsustainable forestry practices that harm ecosystems worldwide. Is a few extra pence per bag worth the risk?

Wood Pellet Integrity: Miles Matter

It should come as no surprise that transporting pellets across oceans leaves a massive carbon footprint, as well as the increased handling at each step of the journey. By the time those imported pellets reach the UK, they may have travelled thousands of miles by ship, spewing emissions all the way. 

It would be a fair estimate to say imported pellets are handled at least 6-7 times. When you consider transport from the mill to port, handling onto the vessels, off loading at the port, reloading onto transport, transport to the trader, loading into store and delivery to the end user. 

Not only does this impact the wood pellets by degrading the pellet, but each time the pallet of pellets is handled, it would create a further amount of carbon. Our wood is UK-sourced and UK-processed, slashing our carbon footprint in comparison and having minimal green miles. 

Different modes of transport for use with shipping containers full of wood pellets. This is used to illustrate the true cost of wood pellets.

Supporting UK Jobs and UK Growth

Buying British isn’t just patriotic, it’s smart economics. Your purchase supports UK jobs and keeps money circulating right here. At SDL Solutions, we go beyond that – we believe in investing in our team and we’re passionate about providing training in skilled trades. We are committed to delivering the opportunity to build strong careers in a sustainable industry. We care about the future of our team as well as the planet. We’re creating skilled professionals with sustainable careers.

In addition to providing practical training to guarantee our team’s consistent delivery of excellence, our commitment extends beyond just skill enhancement. We are deeply passionate about educating our team on minimising our environmental footprint, promoting responsible tree use, and fostering respect for nature. Our goal is to ensure that the sites we work on are better conditioned for replanting than when we first encountered them, contributing to sustainable forest management. This philosophy has been a cornerstone of our approach across all our harvesting operations.

ESG and Traceability: More than Buzzwords

Environmental, Social and Governance matter but they can often be terms that are thrown around with little real consideration. UK timber means certified sources and strict regulations. We guarantee the strictest standards being FSC certified, which means we only harvest trees responsibly from sustainably managed forests, supporting conservation and biodiversity as well as providing a fair wage and work environment. It’s not uncommon for imported wood pellets to have murky origins with no traceability or proof of regulatory practices.

How about our pellets? All of our business operations are fully traceable, you can even track them back to the specific woodland plot! This isn’t just feel-good marketing, it’s peace of mind for the environmentally conscious consumer and a level of accountability that we should demand of all producers. 

Quality, From Forest to Biomass

We manage the entire 360° life cycle of the tree – harvesting, site clearance, wood pellet production, sawmilling, CHP and biomass, replanting, as well as all of the deliveries. Because we control the entire process, our pellets are consistently high-quality. Minimal handling preserves pellet integrity. That means higher heat output and less dust in your biomass. Imported pellets often face rough handling at multiple points. This impacts their dust levels and in turn, their performance.

On the flip side, with our pellets having less handling, means higher heat output with lower dust – that’s what you want in your biomass!

Wood pellets and trees showing their sustainable renewable energy life cycle.

Zero Waste

At SDL we believe in zero waste, which means that 100% of every tree we harvest gets utilised. This begins with the brash, which is considered by most as the ‘low quality’, or unusable part of the tree. It’s often left on site following harvesting and makes replanting very difficult. However, we use the brash to feed our biomass to produce renewable energy.

This is a win win, as it keeps the ground clear for replanting efforts and is used for renewable energy. Any energy that we don’t use gets fed back into the national grid. This maximises tree utilisation and fuels our own processes with renewable energy. This efficiency helps keep our prices competitive, even as we prioritise sustainability.

The main section of the tree is prioritised for use in our sawmill and is cut down to size for various products, including: fence panels, posts, boards, posts, sleepers and more. Any waste sawdust or wood chip from the sawmilling process is sent to SDL Pellets. At SDL Pellets, we produce EN Plus A1 wood pellets which are made from the byproduct of our sawmill, site clearance and harvesting operations. None of the wood used to produce our pellets was harvested with the intention of pellet production. 

The equipment used in the production of our wood pellets is powered by our own CHP biomass. The heat generated from this is also used to help dry the sawdust ahead of it being added into the production of our pellets as well as our kiln dried logs.

Replanting and Carbon Accounting

Our harvesting and clearance isn’t just about felling trees – it’s about ensuring forests thrive for generations. This includes the support and provision of replanting, ensuring forests regenerate and continue to thrive in the future. We even track the carbon impact of every job we do for full transparency! With imported pellets, it’s a black box – are you unwittingly contributing to deforestation?

Transparency and Improvement

We’re constantly measuring our own carbon footprint and seeking ways to reduce it further, there is always something we can do better and we strive to do so. That means better efficiency and investment in the future. Looking ahead, we are even exploring installing carbon capture technology to further reduce our environmental impact! This level of accountability is often missing with overseas suppliers, if you can even trace who they are.

Price, Meet Principle 

We understand the need for value. That’s why we’ve streamlined our processes. Managing everything from the forest to delivery allows us to be both consistently competitive and uncompromising on sustainability and quality.

When you take into consideration all of the points above, it makes you wonder, how imported pellets can be priced lower than the UK. More than that though, take a moment to consider if the price is really worth it.

When you’re next in the market for wood pellets, look beyond just the financial cost. By choosing a UK producer like us, who oversees the entire process from start to finish and offers full traceability – a rarity even among other UK producers – you’re not just making a purchase. You’re investing in sustainable forests and heating your home in a way that’s responsible. And supporting a business model that ensures environmental stewardship and quality. Isn’t that worth a little extra per bag? We wholeheartedly believe it is. Full details can be found on our shop.

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