Ireland-based Bord na Móna to stop importing palm kernel shells

Irish energy specialist Bord na Móna is to stop importing palm kernel shells from plantations in some of the world’s most biodiverse countries following concerns that it is helping to fuel deforestation.

According to The Irish Times, since 2010, more than 150,000 tonnes of palm kernel shells (PKS) have been bought by the semi-state company to burn along with peat at the Edenderry, Co Offaly, power station.

An investigation by The Irish Times shows that the semi-state owned body has imported the shells without knowledge of whether they have been sustainably sourced, despite pledges that protecting the environment is part of the company’s “core DNA”.

The palm oil industry is linked to various environmental and social abuses, such as deforestation, pollution, poor working conditions and the destruction of peatlands in Indonesia, which has supplied nearly two-thirds of Bord na Móna’s PKS supplies.

Once oil is extracted from the fruit of the oil palm tree, the kernel shells are dried and crushed and sold internationally as biomass, where they are included in the “green energy” figures of energy companies.

In September, in a reply to a request by The Irish Times, Bord na Móna said as PKS is classified as a byproduct of the palm oil industry, it is not required to buy sustainable kernel shells.

“PKS are a byproduct of this industry and, as such, no certification is required and in most cases is unavailable,” the company stated in a statement. “In the palm oil industry, it is the production of palm oil itself that may be certified and not the residue – ie PKS.”


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