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Environment and Planning

Coming Soon To Eastern Washington: Tree-Free Paper Pulp

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File photo. A company in eastern Washington is deveoping a process to convert waste straw into paper pulp.

A company in eastern Washington is developing a new way to make paper pulp without trees. The mill will instead use a source abundant to the area: straw.

Woodless pulp is a growing trend in the milling industry. Columbia Pulp is building a new facility near Dayton, Washington, in the heart of the state’s wheat and alfalfa country.

Farmers used to view wheat straw as waste. They’d burn it, which would create thousands of tons of air pollution each year.

Company officials say turning that formerly wasted straw into pulp will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The process also uses less heat and fewer chemicals than wood pulp facilities. That means less of that rotten egg smell often associated with paper mills.

Plans are in the works for straw to be used to make towels, paper tissue, and food containers that could replace styrofoam.