As a responsible company, we strive to operate our business in compliance with all legal requirements. By the end of 2024, we will have invested more than $180 million in improving air quality and enhancing operations at our pellet sites since 2022, and are committed to further improvements in our environmental compliance.

Last year, we donated ~$1.55 million to our North American communities and to regions in which we operate, over and above our direct economic impact of over $1 billion.  Our NA pellet operations employ over 1,000 colleagues and support over 7,000 others through our operations.

Drax is also committed to enhancing community engagement, including hiring more community liaison officers, who will work in partnership with our neighbors to jointly improve the communities they live in, and that we operate from.

At Drax, we believe in positively impacting the health and well-being of our communities. Improving regulatory compliance and investing in our operations and communities helps us protect the environment where our employees also live and work.  

Our commitment is reflected in our operational improvements and investments in emission control technologies, as well as our work to partner with communities, identify their needs and invest in addressing them. 

While we have made progress in these areas, we recognize we have more work to do. Below, we provide details on what we’re doing to improve in these areas, and our plans to further invest in our communities in the months ahead. 

Miguel Veiga-Pestana, Chief Sustainability Officer

“Our strategic ambitions to become a global leader in both carbon removals and sustainable biomass pellets rightly place focus on the sustainability of the Group’s operations. 

“Although we have made significant investment in our operations and communities across our footprint, we can always do more to establish and meet the right standards throughout our operations and in our communities. 

“Sustainability in its broadest sense is critical to our success and is core to our strategy and operations. 

“The communities in which we operate are a key part of this and we are committed to being a good neighbor and a responsible business.  

“We aim to support our communities through strong, local partnerships and clear, transparent communication. We are investing to strengthen our partnerships with our communities as well as making improvements in areas where we operate. We will make further progress on this in 2024 and beyond.” 

Highlights of Our Community Approach

  • We have established a new overarching community strategy comprising active community engagement with strategic social investment. This strategy is being delivered by a new dedicated Community team, comprising Community Managers in each country. We have also piloted a new Community Liaison Officer in Amite County, Mississippi, with the intention to hire more liaison support officers in other communities we operate in, in 2024.
  • The Drax Foundation and our Community Fund have been established as new vehicles for strategic social investment and charitable giving. In 2023, these gave out $3.3 million in grants and local donations, including $1.55 million distributed in North America. 
  • We believe strongly in partnerships with forestry and sustainability groups to promote biodiversity and ensure Drax’s operations promote healthy forests and positive environmental outcomes. More information about these can be found below. 
  • We are proud of our continued partnership with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, which supports underserved communities and minority landowners access wood fiber markets. 
  • Our long-term, community engagement strategy is under development and will be finalized in the first half of 2024. 

Commitment to Compliance

We strive to comply with all relevant regulation in the places we operate and we engage proactively with regulators to address issues that have been identified at our facilities. 

Our pellet production operations are subject to laws and regulations which, for example, limit emissions to the atmosphere and set requirements on the level of self-monitoring and reporting. 

We will seek to minimize impacts from pellet mills to surrounding communities. In some cases, this may be through technological upgrades, and in others, we may use nature-based solutions such as planted barriers. 

At a minimum, we will seek to ensure 100% compliance with our permits. Where we have previously failed in this regard we will fix this. 

We are committed to improvements and have invested in our assets to improve operations and reduce emissions, which we disclose as part of our annual reporting. In 2022 and 2023, we invested more than $47 million and more than $93 million respectively, on improving and enhancing our North America pellet plants. By the end of 2024, we plan to invest $40 million on additional improvements and enhancements. 

There are ongoing permitting processes at some of our pellet production facilities in the US, including Gloster, Mississippi and LaSalle, Louisiana. We have ongoing permit update processes across our US operations, and we continue to work with regulators on a routine basis to ensure full compliance. 

Our Commitment to the Community in Gloster

In 2021, we installed new technology at the Gloster plant to improve environmental performance. Drax continues to evaluate the operations and maintenance of the process and control equipment. When we receive inquiries from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), we provide detailed explanations of our processes and work with our regulating agency to determine how we can improve our processes to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements. Drax is committed to environmental compliance and remains focused on transparency and open communication with MDEQ and the Gloster community. More details on these matters can be found on the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s website.

The results of an independent, third-party air toxics impact analysis shows that there are no adverse effects to human health from the facility, and determine that no modeled pollutant from the facility exceeded the acceptable ambient concentration.

During 2023 and 2024, Drax increased engagement with the community in Gloster to better understand the needs of local people. We did this through listening sessions, stakeholder interviews, and meetings with community leaders and traditionally under-represented people from within the community. This helped to inform a community action and engagement plan which is being finalized. A Community Liaison Officer has also been appointed to work with our US Community Manager within Gloster and in the coming months they will work with local residents to create a Community Panel. The Panel will help us to identify local priority issues and projects to be supported with our $250,000 Gloster Community Fund. 

Our additional commitments to the community of Gloster include: 

  • Holding annual town halls to respond directly to community questions and concerns. 
  • Bi-annual focus groups and/or surveys to understand and address community sentiment. 
  • Establishing a Community Panel to feed into key decisions. 
  • Setting up a grievance mechanism to enable community members to report concerns through official channels. 
  • Publicizing job opportunities within the local community. 
  • Establishing partnerships with Amite County High School and Southwest Mississippi College and Workforce Centre to create easier pathways into Drax employment. 

We have received a letter from the NAACP, which asked us about our operations in Gloster and our commitment to that community. Our response can be read here. 

Dogwood Alliance, an activist campaign group, has organized a petition among the Gloster community which was presented to our Board and CEO at our AGM on the 25th April 2024. A copy of our response is available here. 

Photo caption: Gloster city officials and Drax colleagues at the announcement of our $130,000 donation to the city to fund a new community walking track

Commitment to Stakeholders

Through open and constructive dialogue, we remain committed to working with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure a better quality of life for our communities whilst also delivering energy security, providing jobs and skills, and playing a critical role in tackling climate change.  

Stakeholders, such as NGOs and civil society, play an important role in guiding and enabling companies like ours to drive an equitable and inclusive transition to net zero. We welcome their constructive contribution to discussing the issues which involve our business and the wider energy industry. This also includes how we can best use our resources and programs to assist our communities. 

Being challenged on our commitments feeds through to the work we are doing to develop industry-recognized, high-quality methodologies for the issuance of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) credits from BECCS. More information can be found here 

Another example of this is our response to the ‘BECCS Done Well’ report, an independent report prepared at the request of Drax by a leading UK environmentalist, Jonathon Porritt, and the non-profit organization Forum for the Future. Jonathon Porritt, details the process of working with Drax over the course of two years in his blog which can be found here

You can read the full ‘BECCS Done Well: conditions for success for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage’ report here and our response with our commitments and approach to BECCS can be found on our Science and Evidence Hub, here. 

This supports our ambition to be a world-leading, sustainability-driven company, while holding ourselves to strict sustainability, socioeconomic, and environmental standards.

Charitable giving and social investments

As part of our commitment to being a good neighbor in the communities where we operate, we combine active community engagement with corporate giving.  

In 2023, we donated $3.3 million to around 280 projects and programs globally, primarily in the countries and regions where we operate, including in North America, where ~$1.55 million was donated. This was done through: 

  • The Drax Foundation, which we established in 2023, to provide grant funding for non-profit organizations that share our commitment to improving equitable access to STEM education, community green spaces, and renewable energy, prioritizing work which supports underrepresented and underserved groups. 
  • Drax’s Community Fund provides reactive funding for local programs, projects, and community events in the communities where we operate. This forms part of our work to build stronger communities. 
  • A Communities in Crisis Fund provides emergency relief for on-the-ground humanitarian organizations in the aftermath of natural disasters and conflict. 

Organizations supported through the Drax Foundation during 2023: 

Organization Country / location Focus area  
Boys and Girls Clubs of America US, Mississippi STEM education within underserved communities  
Center for Planning Excellence  US, Louisiana Nature and Community green spaces  
Central Creativity Foundation  US, Mississippi STEM education within underserved communities 
Galveston Bay Foundation US, Texas Nature and community green spaces  
Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism and Sustainability US, Alabama Nature-based STEM learning 
Houston Audubon US, Texas Nature and community green spaces 
Project Learning Tree US, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas Nature-based STEM learning  
Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering US, Texas STEM education in underserved communities  
ACTUA Canada, British Columbia STEM education in underserved communities  
Connected North Canada, British Columbia STEM education within First Nations  
Exploration Place Canada, British Columbia STEM education within First Nations 
Nature Trust of British Columbia Canada, British Columbia Nature and community green spaces  
Scientists in School Canada, British Columbia and Alberta STEM education in underserved communities  
Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology Canada, British Columbia STEM education in underserved communities  
University of British Columbia Canada, British Columbia Nature-based STEM learning  
Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT) UK, Scotland  Nature-based STEM learning 
Embers Aquatics UK, Scotland Water safety for children  
Kirkcudbright Dark Spaces UK, Scotland STEM education in rural communities  
CatZero UK, England STEM education in underserved communities  
Don Catchment Trust UK, England Nature and community green spaces 
Eden Rose Coppice Trust UK, England Nature-based STEM learning  
Friends of Lower Derwent Valley UK, England  Nature and community green spaces 
HETA UK, England STEM apprenticeships in underserved communities  
NYBEP UK, England STEM education in underserved communities 
Speakers for School UK, England STEM education in underserved communities  
Teach First UK, England STEM education in underserved communities 
STEM Learning Ltd UK, England STEM education in underserved communities 
Toranj Tuition UK, England STEM education in underserved communities 

In addition to funding from the Drax Foundation, we also supported more than 220 local projects and programs globally in our operating communities through our Community Fund. This represents $860,000 of direct social investment in 2023, 65% of which went to more than 80 projects in our North America communities. If there is a local initiative within one of our communities that you would like to nominate for funding, please complete this enquiry form Community Fund – Drax Global. 

For more information see the Drax Foundation Annual Review 2023 and see how our funding has been distributed by country and community. 

Commitment to Biodiversity

We have commissioned biodiversity experts to assess our US pellet production catchment areas. As well as providing baseline biodiversity data, these assessments will support target setting, provide insights on opportunities and challenges in monitoring and detecting changes relating to at-risk species and ecosystems. 

We are working with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) in respect of a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant to improve forest conditions of overstocked hardwood plantings.  

In August 2023, we also donated to the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) Land Stewardship Assistance Partnership. The partnership provides on-the-ground wildlife and land management assistance to private landowners in Alabama, providing professional recommendations to more than 1,000 landowners covering almost 405,000 hectares of land. 

Drax is a conservation partner of The Longleaf Alliance (TLA) and we support TLA’s mission of being leaders in the restoration, stewardship, and conservation of longleaf pine ecosystems. Since 2019, we have distributed their educational materials to our suppliers which source material from counties that FSC® has identified as “at-risk” for loss of habitat associated with native longleaf pine systems. 

You can learn more about Drax and the work we do in renewable energy generation, sustainable biomass pellets and carbon removals here. 

BECCS Done Well

There is a clear, growing consensus across Governments, policy makers and scientists that we need carbon removals from technologies like Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) on a global scale if we are to prevent irreversible damage to the climate.  Drax aims to become a leader in global BECCS with the aim of geologically sequestering 7 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030. 

BECCS has a huge role to play in helping nations reach their decarbonization goals, while also supplying jobs, renewable energy and boosting economies. But this potential is not yet being met.   

To realize all the potential benefits of BECCS, we must ensure it is done well, in a way that can deliver positive outcomes for climate, nature and people.  

Drax is committed to doing BECCS well – we instigated the creation of an independent report on how to do BECCS well on a global scale. We listened to the outcomes and we are taking the recommendations forward, leading the world in deploying BECCS to the highest standards. 

BECCS Done Well has been an important text for Drax, driving discussion, progress and informing our approach to delivering BECCS in a way that supports climate, nature and people positive outcomes. Our response was a product of months of high-level discussion on critical sustainability principles and their integration into our business. 

You can learn more about the work we do in renewable energy generation, sustainable biomass pellets and carbon removals here.