Making paper out of agricultural residues such as straw waste is a smart way to alleviate pressure on forest ecosystems and provide sustainable business solutions.
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.
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 regions the residues are burned, while many agricultural residues happen to be ideal for making paper. Farmers, in consultation with 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, including soil carbon storage.
As part of its Second Harvest campaign, Canopy has undertaken market surveys and paper trials. Canopy has advocated for this solution for over a decade and a half. Markets are hungry for environmentally preferable options. New pulping technology has been developed in response. North America’s first modern wheat straw pulp mill has been completed and a new low impact mill is being constructed in China, with plans underway for several other mills around the world. More mill ventures are hot on their heels as investment begins to see the opportunity.