UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into sustainable paper alternatives for the UBC campus : (sugar cane versus wheat waste fibre) Crompton, Andrew; Campbell, Kyle; Soderling, Roger


The University of British Columbia has an initiative to come up with a viable paper alternative on campus to support their goal of sustainable development. This report will discuss the results of a triple bottom line assessment that compares the economic, environmental and social aspects of two paper alternatives made from sugar cane and wheat waste fibres. The sugar cane paper is manufactured in Columbia by a company called TreeZERO and is 100 percent tree free. The wheat waste paper is manufactured in India by a company called Prairie Pulp and Paper and is composed of 80 percent wheat waste and 20 percent tree fibres. The economic life cycle of each paper alternative was investigated along with the potential economic benefits associated with manufacturing each paper alternative in Canada. The carbon footprint associated with the processing, transporting, and recycling of each paper alternative was considered in the environmental section of the report. Lastly, the social indicators assessed the labours laws in the manufacturing countries and the social acceptance of each paper, which was determined through surveying students at the UBC campus. The information required to complete this assessment was obtained using scholarly peer reviewed journals and direct conversation with industry professionals. In particular, Mark Tracey, a sales representative from TreeZERO, provided the economics associated with the sugar cane paper. The results of the triple bottom line assessment showed that the sugar cane paper was the more sustainable paper source. The economic analysis showed that sugar cane paper is favoured due to its 7 percent lower purchasing cost and 50 percent lower transporting costs. From an environmental standpoint, the sugar cane paper has a 23 percent lower carbon footprint than the wheat waste paper, primarily associated with the transportation required. Socially, there was a public preference for the sugar cane paper due to it being 100 percent tree free and having a lower carbon footprint. Presently, it is advised that UBC Payment and Procurement further investigates the sugar cane paper as a sustainable alternative on the UBC campus. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

Usage Statistics