In 2013, the CEO of Columbia Pulp approached a group of Washington State wheat farmers with an idea; buying the waste wheat straw lying in their fields to make tree-free paper. He had two aims; the first to reduce the carbon footprint of paper manufacturing and to give farmers a new revenue stream.
The farmers were sceptical, having been sold on ideas previously that had never materialised. However, now Columbia Pulp is has the first tree-free paper manufacturing plant in America. What was once waste product is now sold for pulp to make paper without a single felled tree.
This alternative saves some of Washington's iconic Douglas Fir, western hemlock and sitka spruce forests; that together scrub 35 percent of the state’s total carbon emissions, making it one of the most efficient carbon-sequestration ecosystems in the world. It also makes its 2.2 million wheat fields more profitable for farming, as well as creating jobs for the local community, making revenue from a sustainable waste product.