Open Country Acquires Wood Pellet Manufacturer

Open Country has taken an exciting step to move forward in our journey of environmental sustainability and has acquired Nature’s Flame, New Zealand’s largest wood pellet manufacturer.

In an effort to reduce Open Country’s greenhouse gas emissions, we are actively working to convert the coal-fired boilers used in our dairy processing plants to sustainable energy sources when it’s economically viable. Wood pellets, manufactured from sawmill and other timber manufacturing waste and by-products, offer a viable alternative.

Owning Nature’s Flame is the best way to future-proof Open Country’s supply of these planet-helping pellets. It also enables us to support Nature’s Flame’s expansion. As demand increases in our dairy business, and in the businesses of other eco-friendly customers, Open Country will shoulder the responsibility of increasing Nature’s Flame output. We’ll make sure users of this clean fuel have the supply they need.

Nature’s Flame was established in 2003 in Rolleston, Christchurch. In 2010, it opened the largest wood pellet mill in the Southern Hemisphere in Taupō. In 2015, Norske Skog acquired the Taupō operation and increased manufacturing capacity from 20,000 to 90,000 tonnes per year. Nature’s Flame is an award-winning business and has obtained DINplus certification – the global benchmark for quality wood pellet fuel.

Reducing Reliance On Fossil Fuels

Two of the coal-fired boilers in our Waharoa plant are being converted to burn wood pellets and will come online in 2023. This is our North Island plant where we process cheese, powders, milk fats and proteins. Once fully commissioned, the boilers will use around 16,000-20,000 tonnes of pellets annually. This alone will reduce Open Country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 35,000 tonnes. That’s equivalent to the emissions of 14,400 cars.

The wood pellets that will be used by our Waharoa boilers are made from New Zealand pine residues, the waste and by-products from sawmills and other timber manufacturers. Containing no additives, contaminants, or treatments, they are a clean, sustainable fuel.

Story Natures Flame 2

A Step Forward On Our Journey To Zero Emissions

While we are moving into the right direction, we also know that Open Country has more to do before we reach our target – to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030, and zero emissions by 2050. These are ambitious goals, but in a real sense, we believe we must go after them.