Survey Participant Information - Environment Indicators Survey - Frequently Asked Questions

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General

Why has this business been chosen to be in the Environment Indicators Survey(EIS)?

How is the information from this survey used? Why is it important?

Do I have to answer the questions?

What kinds of questions are asked in the EIS?

Do I still need to complete the survey if the business was sold before the start of, or during, the 2018-19 financial year?

What do I do if the business is still operating but didn’t trade during the 2018-19 financial year?

Do I still need to complete the survey if the business has gone into liquidation/administration during the 2018-19 financial year?

How do I answer the EIS?

I’m having trouble completing the survey online – where can I get help?

How will the information I provide be kept safe, secure and confidential?

Will I be paid for my time?

Can I use the EIS statistics too?

This business is run from home – what information should I provide?

What if the accounts are not ready for the 2018-19 financial year?

How should I describe the activity from which this business/organisation derives its main income?

Where can I find definitions which will help me answer questions?

How can I provide feedback about my involvement in EIS?

Who can I contact for more information?

How do I answer the volume and expenditure questions when my electricity/natural gas/water/waste is paid for by my landlord/lessor as part of my rent/lease agreement?

I am a landlord/lessor that pays electricity/natural gas/water/waste expenses for other businesses/organisations as part of a rent/lease agreement; should I report these expenses?

Should I separate out the electricity/natural gas/water/waste usage fees from administrative fees?

What if the billing period for purchased electricity/natural gas/water/waste falls outside of the EIS reporting period?

Energy

How do I convert energy units?

I am unable to source both volume and expenditure information for all fuel types consumed, what should I do?

Should I include fuels used in our fleet of vehicles?

I on-sell vehicles to other businesses/organisations and households that have fuels included in the cost/price of the vehicles; should I include the fuel in these vehicles as it is not used by this business/organisation?

What is meant by energy/fuels supplied on a non-monetary basis?

Should I deduct amounts reimbursed by the Fuel Tax Credits Scheme (FTCS)?

Water

How do I convert water units?

My business/organisation supplies its own water and sewerage services on-site, should I report these expenses?

What if I cannot split out sewerage/waste water services from my purchased water?

I am unable to provide volumes of potable/recycled/raw water received from a provider, how should I report?

Should I report water that is recycled on-site?

I do not measure or meter my self-sourced water and so am unable to provide volumes, how should I report?

What if my business/organisation self-extracts water from its sites/locations but pays for the water by the litre?

My businesses/organisation extracts seawater; where should this be reported?

How should I report water that is discharged to the environment (off-site) if it is not measured or metered?

Waste

How do I convert waste units?

What if I don’t know exactly how much waste my business/organisation generates?

I operate my business/organisation over multiple sites. How can I calculate the amount of waste my business generates?

What is the difference between waste sold and by-products sold?

Should I include biosolids?

Definitions

General

Why has this business been chosen to be in the Environment Indicators Survey (EIS)?

If you have received a survey form, your business has been selected this year to represent your industry, irrespective of the size or the type of your business.

This survey is answered by a selection of businesses that represent the wider Australian business community, including not-for-profit organisations. Most businesses in the EIS are larger businesses. Some smaller businesses are included as these have different characteristics to medium and large businesses and may be differently affected by government policies; as such their contribution is particularly important for national statistics.

How is the information from this survey used? Why is it important?

The statistics from the EIS are included in a number of Environmental Accounts publications. These can be found on our website by clicking on the links below:

Energy Account, Australia (catalogue no. 4604.0)

Water Account, Australia (catalogue no. 4610.0)

Waste Account, Australia (catalogue no. 4602.0.55.005)

By responding to the EIS, you provide information that is essential to calculating Australia's statistics for monitoring changes in the supply and use of energy, fuels and water as well as waste generation and management. These statistics enable industry, business and government to make informed decisions.

Do I have to answer the questions?

Yes. The questions included in this survey are being asked under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, which has provisions to make surveys compulsory. Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested. All the information you provide will remain strictly confidential.

What kinds of questions are asked in the EIS?

This survey collects a range of information to produce important statistics about energy, water and fuel usage, as well as waste management services and waste generation within the business.

Full information is available in the online form.

Do I still need to complete the survey if the business was sold before the start of, or during, the 2018-19 financial year?

If the business was sold prior to the beginning of the 2018-19 financial year, please call us on 1800 882 362 and one of our staff will be happy to assist you.

If the business operated by the selected entity (e.g. ABN) was sold during the financial year, then the survey should be completed using figures up to and including the day that the business was sold, as well as figures relating to any other new activity undertaken by the selected entity for the remainder of the financial year.

If the selected entity ceased to operate after the sale, please indicate in the comments box at the end of the survey whether there are intentions for the entity to trade again in the future.

What do I do if the business is still operating but didn’t trade during the 2018-19 financial year?

In this case, please call us on 1800 882 362 and one of our staff will be happy to assist you.

Do I still need to complete the survey if the business has gone into liquidation/administration during the 2018-19 financial year?

If the business has gone into liquidation or administration during the 2018-19 financial year, please complete the survey using figures up to and including the day that the business was liquidated or went into administration. It is also important to report the date that this occurred.

If you are unable to access the accounts, then the liquidator or administrator should complete the survey. Where this is not possible, best available estimates should be provided. It is acceptable to provide an estimate based on a percentage change from the previous year's figures. In the comments box at the end of the survey, please advise if estimates were used and provide the ABS with as much detail as possible about the information provided.

Where estimates are not possible, please call us on 1800 882 362 and one of our staff will be happy to assist you.

How do I answer the EIS?

Nearly all of the businesses in our business surveys provide their answers online. For the EIS, you should have received a letter with a unique Form Access Code. When you have your Form Access Code, please go to the ABS Survey page, set up an Account using your email address (or log in if you already have an Account) and add the code to your Account to access your business' survey form.

The Account is a secure service that allows a form to be accessed as many times as is needed before final submission. The same Account can be used for other ABS surveys.

I’m having trouble completing the survey online – where can I get help?

For more information on completing our surveys online, help is available on our Online Survey Help page. This provides help with technical difficulties and frequently asked questions on how to create and use the ABS Survey Account.

If you are having trouble creating or accessing your Account, completing the survey online or do not have your Form Access Code, please call us on 1800 882 362 and one of our staff will be happy to assist you. If you would like more general information about participating in one of our surveys, please refer to the previous page.

How will the information I provide be kept safe, secure and confidential?

We take the security of your information very seriously. Your information remains strictly confidential to the ABS. The information is used to calculate statistics and these are released in ways that do not allow identification of businesses or organisations.

All ABS employees have signed a legally enforceable Undertaking of Fidelity and Secrecy as well as the Official Secrecy & Legal Obligations Acknowledgement in which they agree to keep any information, including personal information which they may deal with in the course of their work, private and confidential. This agreement applies for ABS employees for the rest of their lives, even if they leave the ABS. The penalty for breaching this is two years jail, a $21,600 fine, or both.

We comply with the Australian Privacy Principles. If you believe we have breached these principles, please see the information on how to lodge a complaint about privacy matters, contained within our privacy policy.

Will I be paid for my time?

No - there is no provision within the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse businesses for the cost of providing statistical information. As with other ABS surveys, we rely on your willing cooperation. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions

Can I use the EIS statistics too?

Yes! All ABS statistics are available free-of-charge on our website. The statistics from EIS are included in a number of Environmental Accounts publications.

Energy Account, Australia (catalogue no. 4604.0)

Water Account, Australia (catalogue no. 4610.0)

Waste Account, Australia (catalogue no. 4602.0.55.005)

I run my business from home – what information should I provide?

For home-based businesses, please report estimates related to the business only, for example expenditure reported by the business for taxation purposes.

What if the accounts are not ready for the 2018-19 financial year?

Please provide a careful estimate for each question for the business. If you are unsure, provide this year's estimates based on a percentage (proportion) growth or decrease on last year's figures and enter these updated figures onto the form. In the comments box at the end of the survey, please advise if estimates were used and provide the ABS with as much detail as possible about the information provided.

How should I describe the activity from which this business/organisation derives its main income?

Please give a detailed description of the activity of the business. Note that the list of examples provided at this question are not exhaustive.

Where can I find definitions which will help me answer questions?

Please refer to the list of definitions below.

How can I provide feedback about my involvement in EIS?

If you have participated in this survey, or any of our other surveys, we want to hear about your experience. We value your feedback and will use it to improve how we work with our survey participants.

You can use our feedback form to provide us with feedback. For this survey, please select the option "Participation in an ABS Business Survey".

Who can I contact for more information?

For help, or more information about this survey, please call us on 1800 642 149 (+61 2 6252 8802 overseas) Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST.

For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will call you back.

How do I answer the volume and expenditure questions when my electricity/natural gas/water/waste is paid for by my landlord/lessor as part of my rent/lease agreement?

If your electricity, natural gas, water or waste is paid for by your landlord/lessor as part of a rent/lease agreement, this should be excluded from the relevant volume and expenditure questions as this information will be reported by the appropriate business/organisation responsible for payment of these expenses. Electricity/Water/Waste expenses covered as part of a lease arrangement should be indicated by selecting one of the “Yes” options for consumption paid for by another business/organisation at the relevant questions.

I am a landlord/lessor that pays electricity/natural gas/water/waste expenses for other businesses/organisations as part of a rent/lease agreement; should I report these expenses?

Please include electricity, natural gas, water or waste consumption and expenditure that is not separately invoiced to tenants/lessees, but is paid by this business/organisation as part of a rent or lease agreement.

Should I separate out the electricity/natural gas/water/waste usage fees from administrative fees?

All administrative charges including supply charges, fixed price and usage fees, maintenance etc. should be included.

What if the billing period for purchased electricity/natural gas/water/waste falls outside of the EIS reporting period?

Report expenditure and consumption of electricity/natural gas/water received from a supplier based on the consumption and expenditure detailed on the four quarterly bills or equivalent twelve month period closest to the 2018-19 reporting period. In the comments boxes, please advise if estimates were used and provide the ABS with as much detail as possible about the information provided.

Energy

How do I convert energy units?

Please refer to the energy conversion factors below.

• Electricity

1 megawatt hour (MWh) = 1,000 kilowatt hour (kWh)

• Natural gas

1 gigajoule (GJ) = 1,000 megajoules (MJ)

• Other fuels

1 kilolitre (kL) = 1,000 litres (L)

1 megalitre (ML) = 1,000 kilolitres (kL)

1 megalitre (ML) = 1,000,000 litres (L)

• Compressed Natural Gas

1 kilolitre (kL) = 1 cubic metre (m3)

1 megajoule (MJ) = 0.0254 cubic metres (m3)

Please note: while the energy content of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) can vary, this is the accepted Australian standard energy content.

I am unable to source both volume and expenditure information for all fuel types consumed, what should I do?

If you are unable to provide both volume and expenditure information, careful estimates are acceptable. For example, you can divide total expenditure by average fuel price to calculate a quantity or multiply total consumption of fuel by average fuel price to calculate expenditure. In the comments boxes, please advise if estimates were used and provide the ABS with as much detail as possible about the information provided.

Should I include fuels used in our fleet of vehicles?

Yes, include any fuels that have been consumed in your fleet of vehicles.

This business/organisation on-sells vehicles to other businesses/organisations and households that have fuels included in the cost/price of the vehicles; should I include the fuel in these vehicles as it is not used by this business/organisation?

Yes, you should include the fuel used in vehicles that are being on-sold. This fuel is an input to the production process and therefore, should be included as part of your consumption.

What is meant by energy/fuels supplied on a non-monetary basis?

This includes the use of energy products sourced from other related business units (subsidiaries) within a business/organisation or from other businesses/organisations, where no corresponding financial transaction has taken place.

If this is relevant to you, details can be reported in the comments boxes to inform the ABS about the information provided on the form.

Should I deduct amounts reimbursed by the Fuel Tax Credits Scheme (FTCS)?

No, you should not deduct amounts reimbursed by the FTCS. Please include these amounts in your estimates.

Water

How do I convert water units?

Please refer to the water conversion factors below.

1 kilolitre (kL) = 1,000 litres (L)

1 megalitre (ML) = 1,000 kilolitres (kL)

1 gigalitre (GL) = 1,000 megalitres (ML)

My business/organisation supplies its own water and sewerage services on-site, should I report these expenses?

In this case, you should only report expenses for water purchased from water authorities or other businesses/organisations.

Self-sourced water expenses should not be included, but volume and source should be reported at the appropriate question.

Expenditure related to own on-site sewerage facilities should not be included.

What if I cannot split out sewerage/waste water services from my purchased water?

You can find volumes and expenditure for water received from a water supplier in your water billing information. However, if exact breakdowns between sewerage/waste water services and purchased water are not readily available, then careful estimates are acceptable.

In the comments boxes, please advise if estimates were used and provide the ABS with as much detail as possible about the information provided.

I am unable to provide volumes of potable/recycled/raw water received from a water supplier, how should I report?

You can find volumes and expenditure for water received from a water supplier in your water billing information.

If you are unable to locate exact breakdowns by type of water purchased, then careful estimates are acceptable. In the comments boxes, please advise if estimates were used and provide the ABS with as much detail as possible about the information provided.

For offices/locations of your business/organisation that are leased under arrangements that include payments for water received, you should exclude the associated water volumes as this information will be reported by the appropriate business/organisation responsible for payment of your water expenses.

Should I report water that is recycled on-site?

Water recycled on-site is out of scope for this survey. Only recycled water purchased from a water supplier should be reported.

I do not measure or meter my self-sourced water and so am unable to provide volumes, how should I report?

If self-sourced water volumes are not available, please provide a careful estimate of the volume of self-sourced water extracted during the reporting period.

Please do not report the capacity of your business/organisation’s water storage/extraction facilities or the volume of extract entitlement. This is not a suitable measure for estimated usage.

What if my business/organisation self-extracts water from its sites/locations but pays for the water by the litre?

If you pay for water by the litre, even if it is self-extracted from your own sites/locations, you should include this water in Question 10(a).

If your self-extracted water is paid for through a water license or agreement, this volume should be reported in Question 14.

My businesses/organisation extracts seawater; where should this be reported?

You should only report seawater used for desalination or cooling purposes in Question 14(c). Seawater used for any other purposes is out of scope of this survey.

How should I report water that is discharged to the environment (off-site) if it is not measured or metered?

If you do not measure or meter the volume of water that is discharged then careful estimates are acceptable.

Waste

How do I convert waste units?

Please refer to the waste conversion factors below.

1 cubic metre (m3) = 1,000 litres (L)

1 tonne - 1,000 kilograms (kg)

What if I don’t know exactly how much waste my business/organisation generates?

Please provide an estimate if an exact figure is not available, using the following formula:

(Volume of your bin in L) x (How many times the bin is emptied in a year) x (how full the bin usually is when emptied) = yearly waste generation in litres.

For example, a 240L bin, emptied once a week, usually three quarters full:

(240) x (52) x (75%) = 9,360 L (or 9.36 cubic metres) of waste per year.

For businesses operating across multiple sites, the estimate can be extrapolated based on a site with similar activities (see below).

I operate my business/organisation over multiple sites. How can I calculate the amount of waste my business generates?

If your business operates on multiple sites that are operationally similar (and generate similar types of waste), you can extrapolate total waste generation using the amount of waste generated on one site. After calculating the total amount of waste generated at a site you consider to be representative of other sites, divide this total number by the number of employees working at that site to calculate an estimated amount of waste per person. You can then use this number to estimate the total amount of waste at other sites based on the number of employees at each site.

What is the difference between waste sold and by-products sold?

For the purposes of this survey, "by-products" are defined as any substance or object resulting from a production process that can be sold without further processing. By-products that aren't sold and are instead disposed of or sent to be recycled are considered to be waste.

Waste material sold for profit includes any waste that arises from the operations of the business, that can no longer serve its original function but can be sold for reuse or reprocessing - for example, scrap metal.

Should I include biosolids?

For the purposes of this survey, biosolids (produced by the water treatment process and often reused for agricultural or land rehabilitation purposes) are considered waste and should be included. Please report biosolids by their dewatered quantity, not the dry quantity.

Definitions

Aviation fuel - kerosene and gasoline type fuels designed to meet specifications used in aviation turbine power units. This includes aviation turbine fuel (AVTUR), aviation gasoline (AVGAS) and aviation kerosene (AVKER).

Bagasse - a residue of the sugar cane milling process which can be used as a fuel.

Biogas - gaseous fuels, also known as biofuels and biomass gas, which are produced from the decomposition/fermentation of organic waste. Examples include landfill methane and digester gas.

Biomass - a solid renewable organic material that can be burnt as a fuel (e.g. bagasse, wood and wood waste). It can also be used to produce liquid or gas biofuels (e.g. biogas).

Black coal - a sedimentary organic rock consisting of anthracite, bituminous and sub-bituminous rank coals. Black coal is primarily used as a solid fuel to raise steam to generate electricity.

Brown coal - also known as lignite, is a low rank, brownish-black coal with a high moisture content of around 60%.

Brown coal briquettes - made from brown coal through a process of crushing, drying and the addition of a binding agent, to produce a compact, high energy fuel that is easily transported. In Australia it is used almost exclusively as a fuel for steam-electric power generation.

By-product - a substance or object resulting from a production process that is able to be sold without further processing. This excludes waste products that are sold for recycling or profit such as scrap metal.

Clinical, pharmaceutical and medical waste - hazardous waste products that are produced from health care activities.

Coal by-products - additional products derived during the operation of coke ovens and blast furnaces. Coal by-products include both liquids (tars and liquid hydrocarbon by-products, such as coal tars and tar oils) and gases (such as coke oven gas and blast furnace gas). It also includes blast furnace gas from iron and steel processing.

Coke - a material derived from heating coal in the absence of air. It is used mainly as a fuel and reducing agent in smelting iron ore, and is derived from the destructive distillation of low-ash, low sulphur bituminous black coal.

Commercial and industrial waste - waste produced by businesses/organisations, including waste from manufacturing, wholesale and retail businesses, schools, restaurants and offices.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) - made by compressing purified natural gas to less than one percent of the volume it occupies at standard atmospheric pressure. It is used mainly in transportation.

Construction and demolition waste - waste produced by building and demolition activities, including road and rail construction and maintenance and excavation of land associated with construction activities.

Cooling water - for the purposes of this survey cooling water refers to single use water used to regulate temperature by dissipating heat from processes and/or equipment.

Crude oil - a mixture of hydrocarbons, existing in the liquid state; both in natural underground reservoirs and at atmospheric pressure after passing through surface separating facilities.

Desalination - a process where salt is removed from water with a high salt content (usually seawater but sometimes other brackish water) to make it suitable for use (usually for consumption, but sometimes for industrial purposes).

Diesel (including biodiesel blends) - fuel for diesel engines obtained from the distillation of petroleum. It includes both Automotive Diesel Oil (ADO) and Industrial Diesel Fuel (IDF). Biodiesel is a renewable fuel derived from vegetable oils or animal fats through the process of esterification. Biodiesel blended with conventional diesel, usually B5 or B20, is available at a number of service stations across Australia.

Electricity - the flow of electrical power or charge. It is a secondary energy source, meaning it is derived from the conversion of primary sources of energy such as coal, natural gas and oil.

Electricity provider - a business or organisation that provides or distributes electricity. Electricity providers may be electricity retailers, utility companies, government bodies or any other third party that provides electricity to this business/ organisation. Electricity providers may also generate electricity.

Fuel oil - the heavy distillates from oil refining, used as a fuel for burning in furnaces or boilers, ships and locomotives.

Gaseous waste - includes emissions to air, e.g. CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels.

GreenPower - electricity that is generated by accredited renewable energy generators. It is provided to businesses/organisations by energy suppliers on request.

Groundwater - water that collects beneath the substrate or soil surface (or below the ground's surface).

Hazardous waste - waste that, by its characteristics, poses a threat or risk to public health, safety or to the environment and requires special treatment. Can be referred to as special, listed, regulated, controlled or prescribed waste depending on the jurisdiction. Hazardous waste may be solid or liquid, examples include waste oils, chemicals, contaminated soil, medical wastes, asbestos, acids and pesticides.

Inland surface water - water on the surface of the planet that is located inland i.e. it is not the ocean, or seawater. Inland surface water includes water flowing or held in streams, rivers and other wetlands in the landscape.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) - a combination of propane and butane, along with trace amounts of other compounds, recovered in either natural gas extraction or oil refining. The gases are transformed into a liquid to assist in transport.

Liquid biofuels unblended - liquid fuels produced from renewable organic sources (biomass). Biofuels include unblended ethanol and biodiesel and are used as fuels in transportation and electricity generation.

Mine dewatering - the process used to remove excess run-off and groundwater seepage into mines.

Mining and mineral waste - waste material originating from mining processes, e.g. red mud, overburden, tailings, discard slurry.

National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting scheme (NGER) - the scheme is administered by the Clean Energy Regulator (Commonwealth regulatory body) which is empowered under the NGER Act 2007 to collect aggregated annual energy consumption data from designated energy intensive businesses in Australia.

Natural gas - a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases. It is formed primarily of methane however, its composition can vary widely and commonly includes ethane, propane, butane and pentane. It includes Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Coal Seam Methane (CSM)

Other fuel types - this includes heating oil, industrial materials if recycled and combusted to produce heat and energy, kerosene (other than for use as fuel in an aircraft), liquefied aromatic hydrocarbons, naphtha, non-biomass municipal materials if recycled and combusted to produce heat or electricity and other energy commodities.

Petrol (including E10) - a petroleum product used in motor vehicles. It is also known as automotive gasoline. It includes: Regular unleaded petrol - petrol that has zero lead content; Premium unleaded - a high octane fuel which has an octane rating of RON 95 and 98 and is designed for high performance unleaded engines and Ethanol blend - also known as E10 and is a blend of 10% ethanol fuel and 90% regular unleaded petrol.

Potable water - water received from water suppliers that is suitable for human consumption (e.g. drinking water). It may have been supplied via mains supply or transported/trucked in by other businesses/organisations.

Produced formation water - the naturally occurring water that exists within oil and gas reserves.

Radioactive waste - waste that contains radioactive elements that send out higher levels of radiation than natural background radiation.

Raw water - untreated water received from water suppliers. Untreated water is not intended for use as drinking water.

Recycled waste - for the purposes of this survey, what is considered recycled is dependent on the intent of this business/organisation when they separate waste material, i.e. if this business/organisation places the material in a recycling bin or sends it for recycling, it is considered a recycled material regardless of where that material eventually ends up.

Recycled water - for the purposes of this survey, recycled water is water received from water suppliers only and does not include self-recycled water. This includes water that has been sourced by the water supplier from drainage, wastewater (including sewage) or stormwater that has been used again without first being discharged to the environment. It may have been treated to some extent.

Refinery fuels - refinery coke and fuel gas as combusted or consumed by refineries.

Renewable fuels - combustible fuels derived from biological resources, including liquid biofuels, biogas, wood and bagasse.

Seawater - water extracted from seas, oceans and estuaries and used for desalination and/or cooling.

Self-sourced water - water that is extracted by this business/organisation directly from inland surface water, groundwater, seawater or other water bodies. This also includes harvested rainfall into tanks. It may or may not be extracted as part of a water licence or agreement. Examples include; rivers, dams, lakes, bore water, produced formation water, seawater and stormwater into tanks.

Sewage - human excreta or domestic waterborne waste, whether untreated or partially treated.

Stormwater - rainfall which is collected as run-off from urban surfaces.

Waste - for the purposes of this survey waste refers to discarded materials (including hazardous materials) that are no longer required by this business/organisation. It includes products which are sold or disposed of, sent for recycling, recovery or to landfill. It excludes anything that is discharged into the sewerage system (e.g. wastewater and sewage).

Waste management services - business activities that involve the management of waste including the collection, transport, processing, recycling and disposal of waste.

Wastewater - any water that has been used once and cannot be used again without treatment (e.g. untreated effluent, sewage water and trade waste).

Wastewater services - the removal, treatment and disposal of wastewater that is discharged into a sewerage or stormwater drainage system.

Water supplier - a business or organisation that provides water through the piped mains system or other means of transport direct to site (e.g. trucks). This includes irrigation water, potable water, recycled water, raw water and/or bulk water supply service. Water suppliers may be government or private and often operate water storage, purification and supply services. They may also provide sewerage or drainage services.

Wood and wood waste - it includes wood and wood waste used to produce energy, usually through burning.