Glossy magazine wakes up on ‘wheat sheets’
For the first time in North America, a glossy magazine will be published on paper made from the pulp of wheat straw, a development advocates say could herald the birth of a new resource industry that would alleviate some of the pressure on Canadian forests.
The paper, known as the wheat sheet, is the product of more than 10 years of research by scientists at the Alberta Research Council. It’s made from 20-percent wheat straw and 40-percent recycled paper, and its creator says it rivals any glossy paper made primarily from virgin timber.
“I know this is going to sound somewhat anticlimactic, but it actually looks just the same as the other stuff, which is a really good thing from a publishing standpoint,” said Wade Chute, team leader for the project at the research council.
The paper was used to print the latest issue of Canadian Geographic, hitting newsstands today, part of a four-year collaboration with environmental group Markets Initiative, which was instrumental in the green printing of the Harry Potter books.
Nicole Rycroft, executive director of Markets Initiative, said the wheat sheet represents a great opportunity to turn agricultural waste products into an environmentally friendly paper. “We were looking for a creative way to alleviate the stress on Canadian forests,” she said.
Canada is the world’s largest producer of commercial pulp, but the industry has shown little interest in wheat straw, which is used primarily in China. In fact, the wheat straw pulp used to create the wheat sheet was imported from China because there is no facility in North America able to process wheat into pulp.
Ms. Rycroft said the 15 million tonnes of cereal waste Canadian agriculture creates annually could be used to make 7.5 million tonnes of pulp, equivalent to about 80 per cent of all the newsprint used in Canada in a given year.