Good for communities, good for the environment

Soil Conservation & Fibre Supply

Canopy supports, the manufacture of paper made from straw left over after the grain harvest and all other uses, such as animal bedding and maintaining soil integrity, are accounted for.

This leftover straw is known as “agricultural residue”.

In many areas the residues are either burned or removed to a waste pile for disposal. But many agricultural residues happen to be ideal for making paper. Farmers, consulting agronomists and soil scientists with specific regional knowledge can determine the amount of straw residue that must be left on the land and that which could be accessed for commercial purposes in a manner that does not undermine soil quality. 

Search tons of straw available by county in the US here.

Search tons of straw available by region in Canada go here.

North America’s vast agricultural heartlands are untapped sources of paper fibre. Every year millions of tons of agricultural residue, like wheat and flax straw, go unused while our ancient and endangered forests are logged to make more paper.

The 22+ million acres of wheat grown in Canada results in 13-20 million tons of available wheat straw [1]. Canada also grows an additional 1.2+ million acres of flax.

The top wheat-growing states in the U.S. harvest more than 40+ million acres of wheat [2], while North Dakota recently harvested and 310,000 acres of flax [3].

If the straw pulping capacity existed to pulp only 25 percent of the available residue for paper, we could make 10+ million tons of uncoated book and copy paper. That’s enough straw available every year to meet almost all of North America’s book and copy paper needs without cutting down endangered forests. That’s more than 250 million trees that could stay standing every year to store carbon and provide a home for endangered species.

Environmental Benefits

ecofootprint

Canopy’s Second Harvest paper campaign is focused on finding ways to reduce the stress of paper production on our ancient and endangered forests.

As the table above illustrates, pulp made from wheat and flax straw has half the ecological footprint of pulp made from forests in the Prairie Provinces of Canada. Half!

In addition to a 50 percent lower ecological footprint, Second Harvest papers can help stabilize our climate by protecting the massive carbon sinks our forests represent.

Tissue manufacturing giant Kimberly Clark has produced a comparative analysis of several different fibers for manufacturing pulp for paper [2].

PowerPoint Presentation copy

Trees grow by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere. When we cut them down the carbon stored in the trunks and the soils they grow in is released to the atmosphere. It takes 15 years for replanted temperate forests to begin to accumulate new carbon and decades to hundreds of years before a planted forest recuperates carbon equivalent to what was stored there before logging (depending on whether an original forest or planted forest was logged).

Using agricultural fibres that are available on an annual basis instead of wood for manufacturing paper can save water, benefit the climate, maintain habitat for forest dependent species, and use less chemicals. That’s all around better for the environment.

Where can I get straw paper in North America?

Canopy’s Eco-Paper database lists the best of the best eco-paper available in the North American market place. It also contains the most complete list of domestic and imported straw and agricultural residue pulps and papers that we know of.

Read more about Canopy’s Canadian Geographic magazine trial with straw paper in 2008 and three famous authors’ books printed on straw-based paper — North American firsts!

Sources:

  1. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2014.
  2. Kimberly-Clark Assessment of Alternative Fibers for Pulp Production.