Canadian Geographic: The Wheat Sheet Issue

In June 2008, Canadian Geographic released their environment issue on the (original) Wheat Sheet, a North American first! The paper was manufactured as a  pilot in a commercial paper mill. It was the first coated paper made with wheat straw in North America and proved that a good quality, commercially viable, coated paper worked on high-speed presses. It was tangible proof that high-resolution images printed crisply on the sheet at a quality that could work for North American advertisers and consumers.

The paper was comprised of 20% wheat straw, 40% post-consumer recycled fibre, and 40% totally chlorine free virgin wood fibre, using 60% less virgin tree fibre than conventional magazine paper. It was history in the making.

The issue was a barn burner! Canadian Geographic received more letters to the editor for that edition than any other in the history of the publication. Advertisers and subscribers were delighted. Other publishers and senior decision makers were inspired.

The Wheat Sheet was the result of a partnership between Canopy, Canadian Geographic, Alberta Innovates (then Alberta Research Council), New Page and Dollco Printing.

The project partners had to go offshore to find the wheat straw pulp, after 18 months of searching across North America for a source. This was not because we lacked wheat straw fibre in Canada and the US, but because of a lack of facilities able to pulp the fibre domestically. In the end, the wheat straw pulp was purchased from China, where more than 20% of  paper fibre comes from wheat and rice straws. The need to import offshore pulp was a large part of the reason that this issue if Canadian Geographic was a “one-off” trial.

Canopy’s Second Harvest Paper Project is dedicated to facilitating domestic production of pulp and paper made with North American agricultural residues.

Read the Editor’s Note from the (original) Canadian Geographic Wheat Sheet Issue here.