Field of Paper Dreams: Turning Wheat into Paper

It’s been proven that paper made from wheat straw and other agricultural waste fiber works, and works well.  In fact, many of you have materials printed by EarthColor on agricultural residue paper made from 60% wheat straw waste and 40% FSC® certified wood fiber.

As your communications print partner, we are committed to continuing our efforts to bring you more choices for sustainable materials, processes and practices throughout the supply chain.  That’s why we’re supporting the efforts of Canopy, one of our leading ENGO (environmental non-governmental organization) partners to increase the supply of agricultural waste to make paper.

Most of the mills that produce paper from wheat and other agricultural waste are located in India, China and other eastern hemisphere countries.  But change is in the air.  Canada and the U.S. are two of the largest wheat-growing regions in the world with more than 62 million acres devoted to growing wheat, sorghum and flax.  Each year, there’s enough unused or discarded agricultural straw waste in both countries to produce more than 10 million tons of paper.  So, the potential to tap into our own resources for non-wood pulp paper is great.  That’s why Canopy’s Second Harvest program “YIMBY! (Yes, In My Backyard)” is so important.  It’s designed to identify farming communities in North America, starting with Canada, as potential sites for new non-wood pulp and paper mills as well as sources for raw material.

For rural communities that become home to agricultural straw waste pulp and paper mills, the benefits can be dynamic — from new jobs, to increased revenue for farmers, to a sustainable industrial tax base for the community.  Environmental benefits range from water savings to the protection of endangered forests.

Many of the necessary stakeholders to make this shift happen are already in place.  There are producers who want to build new straw fiber pulp and paper mills; investors seeking good opportunities; and buyers aiming to produce products using straw fiber paper.  Companies like Kimberly-Clark plan to increase the current level of straw fiber procured for their Green Harvest product line to 50% by 2025.  Columbia Pulp and Tranlin Inc. (a U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese pulp company) is building multimillion-dollar plants in Starbuck, Washington and Chesterfield County, Virginia.  Prairie & Pulp, another EarthColor ENGO partner, is exploring options for building a 100% straw fiber paper mill in North America.

The likelihood of more straw waste fiber from the North American heartland feeding into both new and retrofitted pulp and paper mills is on the horizon.  The outcome will enrich and transform the paper industry, offering you more choices in paper sourced from agriculture as well as sustainably managed tree farms.

To learn more about our commitment to environmental issues and climate change action contact us today.


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