An innovative way to turn straw into paper
D. Adam Anderson
An Oregon mill company has successfully created a new, non-wood product that uses agricultural waste to produce paper.
The West Linn-based Willamette Falls Paper Co. made its first non-wood paper product using pulp from wheat straw fibers. The new product uses 10 percent of fibers collected from the shaft of the wheat and broken down into microscopic elements that are then used to make both coated and uncoated paper.
"We want to be the first coated paper mill to offer non-wood grades made in the U.S. and sourced with local agricultural waste — in this case, straw," Phil Harding, director of technology and sustainability at Willamette Falls Paper Co., said. "Our long-term focus is sustainable papermaking and successful trials using non-wood raw materials is another step toward this goal."
Additional machine and press trials are ongoing to refine the paper properties and specifications. However, early outcomes from press room trials and initial customer feedback has been positive.
According to Harding, the company used local wheat as a way to help reduce the carbon footprint of shipping and importing materials from other locations.
"We are delighted to at once create a novel product offering while also reducing agricultural waste," he said.
Willamette Falls Paper Co. has been working with Trinseo, a key supplier on developing paper grades that will have similar characteristics to the mill's standard grades.
"Finding innovative ways to increase the use of sustainable materials is a critical focus for us, the industry, and modern society, so we're thrilled to continue our support in their development and commercialization of this new product," Trinseo's Todd Crook said.
The mill is expected to start making its new product available to customers by the end of November.
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