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ENplus Update: Navigating New Changes

By Chris Wiberg - September 22, 2015

On Aug. 1, the European Pellet Council released updates to the ENplus quality management scheme for wood pellets. The new handbook—Enplus handbook version 3.0—replaces the prior version ENplus handbook version 2.0. Anyone who is currently ENplus certified under ENplus handbook version 2.0 will want to download the new handbook and read it thoroughly as there are a number of changes that could impact your current certification. Additionally, anyone who is considering ENplus certification, but has not yet been certified, will also want to download the new handbook as there are several components that are different from what you may have previously understood. The handbook can be downloaded from the ENplus website at www.enplus-pellets.eu. 

While there is a summary of changes provided on the ENplus website, I will do my best to outline the substantive changes here as they pertain to North American pellet producers. First, the handbook has a completely different format and feel. There are now six parts to the handbook and there are national versions as well as an international master handbook. The international master handbook is the version that applies within the U.S. Canada has a separate national version, so be careful you are downloading the version that applies to you.

When first viewing the new handbook, I highly recommend reading part one thoroughly before moving on to part two. Do not skip the terminology section as there are many changes.  Handbook version 2.0 included descriptions for several entities including the EPC, national licensers, certification bodies, inspection bodies and testing bodies. These same entities still provide the overall structure, however, there are now several additional terms such as competent management, competent licenser, international management and certified service provider to name a few. It is important to understand these new terms in order to understand how the system works, which differs from country to country and when operating internationally.

When it comes to the specifications for wood pellet classes (grades A1, A2 and B) there are a few important updates.  First, ENplus handbook version 3.0 now references ISO 17225-2 (formerly EN 14961-2) as the basis for the grade criteria, and all ISO-test methods are referenced instead of the previously referenced CEN- and EN-test methods.  In some cases, the referenced ISO-test methods are not published yet, but there is a note in the handbook that the EN-method applies until the ISO-method is published.  Second, there is grade criteria that has been tightened. Specifically, for ENplus A1 the durability requirement is now ≥ 98.0 and for B grade it is ≥ 97.5. The ash limit for A2 grade is now ≤ 1.2 percent, and there is a temperature requirement of ≤ 40 degrees Celsius at the last loading point for truck deliveries to end users.

When it comes to the ENplus certification process, several changes have been made. There are now rigid timeline requirements for compliance once the certification process begins. Inspection reports are due within two months of the inspection date and conformity reports must be complete within a third month, otherwise the application is rejected. Deficiencies are classified into three categories—Types A, B and C. Each type has different requirements for compliance. Annual surveillance inspections are to be conducted with ± three months of the initial inspection date. Inspection criteria has remained much the same, however, it is now required that all pellet storages also be inspected, which can include port facilities, warehouses, distribution points and others. The retention of reference samples is no longer required for bagged product, however, for bulk delivery ENplus handbook version 3.0 now requires that a reference sample be collected for every vehicle that is loaded. Reference samples are still held for nine months. 

Regarding self-monitoring, the same five tests are still required to be tested on site—bulk density, moisture, durability, length and fines—though it is now stipulated that if doubts concerning the pellet quality exist, then additional tests may be ordered. This will apply primarily when producers approach the 0.7 percent ash requirement for grade A1. If ash content is close to the limit, then ash testing at the production site could become a requirement.

There are also changes regarding bag labeling. The ENplus certification seal has been changed as well as the way the grade is specified. In addition, all bag designs now need approval by the "competent management" before bags are sold on the market. The certified company whose ENplus ID is printed on the bag is responsible for submitting bag labels whether it is your brand or the brand of another party.

As I am sure you can now see, the changes to the newest version of the ENplus handbook are substantial. If you are already certified or interested in pursuing this quality management scheme, I highly recommend downloading the ENplus handbook version 3.0 and reading it in detail. The new handbook came into force for all new users as of Aug. 1 and will come into force for currently certified companies Jan. 1.