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Approach to Materiality (Material issues)Thinning timbers to locally produce and consume biomass energy, simultaneously conserve regional forests and cutting carbon dioxide emissions

SDGs 7, 11, 12, 13

Background and issues

imageThinned wood storage section (left) and wood biomass energy plant

Efforts to tap wood biomass around the world are increasing to reduce the proportion of energy derived from fossil fuels and foster cyclical and efficient resource usage. Even in Japan, there is a significant need to maintain forests by thinning to prevent natural disasters and damage to villages, stimulating local economies in the process. Nonetheless, a lot of wood is not thinned because of the costs of such activities and the expenses in disposing of unwanted timber, impeding forest conservation efforts.

Serving the social good through business

imageWood biomass boiler

In December 2016, the RICOH Eco Business Development Center in Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture, adopted a local production and consumption model for wood biomass. A public facilities management firm of the Gotemba municipal government purchases and processes thinned timber that a forestry business procures nearby into woodchips. The center buys the woodchips to fuel its biomass boiler, which supplies its air conditioning and hot water. The center looks to cut its annual carbon dioxide emissions by around 237 metric tons through this setup. This local collaborative model has proven beneficial by fostering forest conservation and lowering center emissions. The municipal government has designated our initiative as one of its Eco Garden City projects. Ricoh aims to package this wood biomass consumption model for use throughout Gotemba and elsewhere around Japan.

Key Performance Indicators from Social Issues Perspectives

  1. Decrease in annual kerosene consumption by switching to renewable energy: 90.2 kiloliters, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 237.2 metric tons (equivalent to carbon absorption of 17,000 cedar trees)
    • Local annual energy demand: Around ¥4.4 million (Annual consumption of Gotemba-produced wood chips of 442.1 metric tons, with a market price of around ¥10,000 per metric ton)
    • Annual cost of energy produced within region: Around ¥7.7 million (Annual consumption of kerosene procured from elsewhere of 90.2 kiloliters at a cost of ¥85 per liter)