UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into sugar cane versus wood fibre paper Carniato, Ryan; Islam, Shariful; Wang, Chun-Jiun; Yeung, Wilson


This paper uses the triple bottom line method to compare wood fibre paper and sugar cane paper's economic, environmental, and social aspects. Specifically, this investigation focuses on the company TreeZero's sugar cane paper to compare against the 30% recycled wood fibre paper used at the University of British Columbia. The investigation relies heavily on scholarly articles, trustworthy online articles, public surveys, and information provided by TreeZero. On the economic front, the supply and demand were measured to ensure that TreeZero has more than enough supply to provide UBC of its needs, and the final price is assumed to be the same. However, any investment made into TreeZero is an investment into foreign economics instead of local. On the social front, the CEO of TreeZero claims that their employees are treated extremely well with above average wages, health plans, insurance and benefits. If true, then risk of serious respiratory illness caused by working with bagasse should be minimal. Also, through public survey of 197 students, most students do knot know much about sugar cane paper but show support towards UBC transitioning to sugar cane paper. On the environmental front, the investigation of the raw material support that sugar cane is the best choice for the university; however, based on the carbon dioxide emission both papers are the same. Investigation on energy requirement, waste generation, SO₂ and NOx emission, chemical waste of pulping/bleaching process, renewability and life cycle reveal that sugar cane is more suitable for the environment. The findings indicate that sugar cane paper is the better option of the two for UBC. Given that it is not possible to produce sugar cane locally there may be other alternative sources worth considering. However, the public appears ready to adopt alternate sources even with minimal information and they have an interest in promoting UBC's image as a leader in sustainability initiatives. 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.”

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