Proving Commercial Viability : The Atwood, Munro, Martel and CanGeo Trials – Canopy

Proving Commercial Viability : The Atwood, Munro, Martel and CanGeo Trials

Proving commercial viability


“Human beings require oxygen and forests produce it; printed books require paper but paper need not be made from virgin forests.” 

Margaret Atwood


Canopy’s successful book and magazine straw paper trials have proven that straw-based paper is a viable alternative to logging carbon-rich forests for paper. Celebrated authors Alice Munro and Yann Martel have collaborated with Canopy on straw paper based books, and trials have been run with Margaret Atwood and Canadian Geographic magazine.


In Other Worlds

In the fall of 2011, Margaret Atwood and Canopy joined forces to create a limited special edition of Margaret Atwood’s In Other Worlds, printed exclusively on paper from a ‘Second Harvest’ of wheat and flax crop residues, combined with post consumer recycled content – the first book on straw paper ever in North America! And with it, these two connoisseurs of thinking for a sustainable future began the countdown to the launch a new resource sector for North America.

The paper for this special edition book of Ms. Atwood’s book of speculative fiction was made without any harm to fragile forest ecosystems. It was the next step in Canopy’s campaign to remove the stress of paper production from our endangered forests.

The special edition of In Other Worlds demonstrated that all this is possible in our own world right now if governments and entrepreneurs in the paper industry follow Canopy’s lead to launch this new resource sector.

Canopy thanks our visionary teammates for the In Other Worlds mission, McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada, Cascades Fine Papers (now Rolland), Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, and Friesens… and of course, the intrepid Margaret Atwood!


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 test 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.

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