An Oregon paper mill company has successfully created a new, non-wood paper product that uses agricultural waste to produce paper.

The West Linn-based Willamette Falls Paper Company made its first non-wood paper product using pulp from wheat straw fibers.

The new product uses 10% of fibers which are collected from the shaft of the wheat and broken down into microscopic fibers, which are then used to make both coated and uncoated paper.

“We want to be the first coated paper mill to offer non-wood grades made in the U.S. and sourced with local agricultural waste, in this case, straw,” said Phil Harding, the director of technology and sustainability at Willamette Falls Paper Company. “Our long-term focus is sustainable paper-making, and successful trials using non-wood raw materials is another step toward this goal.”

Additional machine and press trials are ongoing to refine the paper properties and specifications. However, early outcomes from press room trials and initial customer feedback has been very positive. 

According to Harding, the company used local wheat as a way to help reduce the carbon footprint of shipping and importing materials from other locations. 

“We are delighted to at once create a novel product offering while also reducing agricultural waste,” Harding said.

Willamette Falls Paper Company has been working with Trinseo, their key supplier on developing paper grades that will have similar characteristics to the mill’s standard grades.

“Finding innovative ways to increase the use of sustainable materials is a critical focus for us, the industry, and modern society, so we’re thrilled to continue our support in their development and commercialization of this new product,” Trinseo’s Todd Crook said.

The mill is expected to start making its new product available to customers by the end of November.