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Canadian Geographic's wheat sheet.

From barnyard bedding to breathtakingly beautiful--Canadian Geographic magazine's June issue was the first magazine in North America to be published on paper made from wheat straw waste. It marks the birth of a new era in paper production and forest conservation.

The paper, known as the "wheat sheet" demonstrates that high-quality magazine-grade paper can be made from fibre other than wood pulp, which is the only fibre that pulp and paper mills in Canada currently use. The wheat sheet shows that Canada could diversify its paper fibre sources to include a substantial amount of straw left over from grain harvests in communities across Canada.

The environmental organization Markets Initiative partnered with Canadian Geographic magazine and technical experts at the Alberta Research Council to create an exploratory trial that would showcase the commercial viability of paper made from agricultural by-products, namely wheat waste. The printer, Ottawa-based Dollco Printing, was the first North American publications printer to print on wheat straw.

"Our June issue uses 60 percent [fewer] trees but looks and feels just like any other issue of Canadian Geographic," said editor-in-chief Rick Boychuk. "We're delighted by this paper's performance and hope it will be more widely available for North American publishers soon."

The paper used for the magazine contains 20 percent wheat straw and 40 percent recycled fibre content, with the balance coming from wood pulp. Using straw-based pulps can halve a paper's ecological footprint and improve its strength and print quality. However, the wheat straw pulp for this magazine edition was sourced from China, because straw pulping facilities have yet to be retrofitted in Canada.

The majority of Canada's paper is currently made from boreal forests and temperate rain forests. Straw from Canada's wheat harvest could produce 8 million tonnes of pulp--equivalent to the paper volume used by the North American newspaper industry every year. That could result in saving 100 million trees each year without impacting food production or increasing energy inputs, while providing a new source of income for grain growers.

Canadian Geographic
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Title Annotation:NEWS/NOUVELLES
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Jul 1, 2008
Words:336
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