Sumitomo Forestry: Contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through renewable energy business

Founded in 1691, the Sumitomo Forestry Group utilizes wood as a healthy and environmentally friendly natural resource to provide a diverse range of lifestyle-related services that contribute to the realization of a sustainable and prosperous society. All the company's efforts are based on Sumitomo’s Business Spirit, which places prime importance on fairness and integrity for the good of society.

As a leading timber and building materials trading company in Japan, Sumitomo Forestry is pursuing a broad range of operations, from procurement to manufacturing to logistics.The company owns and manages approximately 280,000 hectares forests in Japan, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand and has global network that spans more than 20 countries.

Key SDGs impacted

Initiative

The power generation business of the Sumitomo Forestry Group is characterized as a coherent system, covering the production and procurement of wood resources to the production of fuel wood chips and power generation. 

For instance, wood biomass power generation was planned in Mombetsu, a region where Sumitomo Forestry owns and manages forests. The company established a broad network involving local governments, forest owners and key forestry industry stakeholders for the sourcing of unused forest resources. Sumitomo Forestry will enhance and expand the network, to improve the added-value of forests and help revitalizing the local economy.

Key outcomes & lessons learned

Each of Sumitomo Forestry’s sustainability mid-term targets are linked to the SDGs. Progress is reported annually through the company's sustainability report. In 2017, it collected 286,000 tons of unused wood materials from Japan’s forests and generated renewable energies for 210,000 households (approximately 100MW), supporting the effective use of wood, reductions in carbon emissions and the maintenance of local forest environments. 

Next steps

Sumitomo Forestry recently announced its objective to expand the renewable energy business to a scale of 300MW by December 2021, and will also continue to explore new business opportunities in the renewable energy area.

Currently, the company is assessing the possibility to build a wind power generation plant in the premise of its owned forests, while looking at improving the recycling and use of wood resources.

More information

To learn more about Sumitomo Forestry's projects and initiatives, please consult:

Summary

Promoting the use of renewable, green energy is central in the long-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. In Japan, Sumitomo Forestry is striving to increase the use of unused forest materials as fuel for wood biomass power generation plants, contributing to sustainably cut carbon emissions as well as to spur reforestation efforts.

Unused wood materials can be a valuable, renewable source of energy while advancing sustainable forest management. The company is operating four power generation facilities throughout the country primarily fuelled by recycled chips using wood not suitable as a building material, thinning leftovers from forests and construction and demolition waste. 

The underuse of forest resources remains a major challenge for Japan’s forestry, despite a growing demand for wood products and biomass. In 2017, Sumitomo Forestry collected 754,000 tons of unused wood materials from Japan’s forests supporting the effective use of wood, reductions in carbon emissions and the maintenance of local forest environments. 

Background

The underuse of forest resources remains a major challenge for Japan’s forestry, making undermanaged forests vulnerable to natural disasters.  Increasing the demand for domestically produced wood is therefore key to revitalize the national forestry industry, including by harvesting matured wood resources and replanting for future generations' use. 

Amid a growing demand for renewable energy and the adoption of the FIT law (Feed-in Tariff for Renewable Energy) in Japan, entering the wood biomass energy business was the next logical step for Sumitomo Forestry. 

The company's energy business strives to recycle wood waste such as offcuts produced in the logging process for timber, wood waste from demolition and unused forest materials from plantations into chips, then supplied as fuel for power-generating boilers and other equipment. These recycled wood resources spur regeneration efforts for the forests, by driving the growth in demand for wood.

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