UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into 30% post-consumer recycled wood fiber paper and wheat paper Yu, Guangnan; Poon, Kimmy; Kudokas, Daniel


This report outlines the feasibility of adopting wheat fiber paper over 30% recycled wood fibre paper at University of British Columbia (UBC) and bringing wheat paper technology into Canada using a triple bottom line assessment (TBL). Minto Roy, from Royal Social Print Paper (RSPP), approached Paula Goldspink from UBC’s supply management department, with the proposition of having UBC replace the 30% recycled wood fibre paper they currently purchase from Domtar with a paper made of wheat straw. The company’s product is currently being produced in India with hopes of bringing the technology to Canada. The use of a TBL for this report requires the investigation of the environmental, economic and social benefits and fallbacks of using wheat paper on a local and national scale. Environmentally, the pros and cons of the two raw material options and their associated pulp and paper processes were explored. The ecological footprint of each resource was found along with the amount of air emissions, solid wastes, and water effluent produced for the two alternatives. An assumption made during this analysis is that the pulping process for both materials is different but the paper making process is nearly identical. Economically, the relative cost of wheat paper to wood paper was determined by comparing the raw materials, labour, storage, transportation, pre-processing, pulping, and bleaching costs, as well as the production loss of the two options. Next, bringing wheat paper technology into Canada’s pulp and paper industry was investigated by determining the availability of wheat straw along with revenue trends and retrofitting costs. To determine the social benefits two key problems were explored. Whether farmers can make a significant profit by selling wheat straw and what new job could be created in the farming sector along with the social impact wheat paper would have on the current wood pulp and paper mills in Canada. Overall, the proposal of adopting wheat paper at UBC and potentially Canada was found to have more benefits then disadvantages. The price of manufacturing/operating was found to be similar for both material types and that the price of wheat will be more stable and cheaper than that of wood in the future. Wheat paper will reduce the trees consumed and ecological footprint while producing less air emissions and solid wastes than the conventional wood pulping process. Finally, wheat paper will add an increase in farmer income nationally, help create awareness of paper fibre alternatives locally, and continue to promote UBC’s image as a leader in sustainable technologies. 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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