First Magazine Printed on Straw Paper

straw_125What’s that sound? Why that’s the rustling of wheat straw being harvested for actor Woody Harrelson’s passion project: Step Forward Paper from Prairie Paper Ventures. And now, the 60% wheat-straw sheet has its first showpiece: issue 46 of Corporate Knights magazine. The “Straw Issue” was distributed on Nov. 25th by The Globe and Mail in Canada and The Washington Post in the U.S.

Though Corporate Knights is not quite a household name in the U.S., it’s significant that Prairie Paper Ventures was able to partner with Canada’s second largest newspaper, and the Post, which is now helmed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, to distribute this “proof of concept” piece. (The Globe and Mail has distributed Corporate Knights as an insert for more than 10 years.)

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The magazine itself was printed on Step Forward Paper Professional Grade, which is a blend of 60% wheat-straw waste and 40% FSC-certified wood fiber. As writer Andrée Gosselin O’Meara observed, the “Straw Issue”:

“is whiter, feels softer to the touch, images are sharp with good skin tone and color balance.”

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As the heart-on-its-sleeve Treehugger.com explains, life cycle analysis of the straw paper demonstrates that it has a lower environmental impact than even 100% recycled paper, and just 60% of the impact of the virgin paper used in many magazines.

woody_harrelsonSo what are we to make of all this? At the moment, it’s hard to say. While this magazine issue is a good start, there are several hurdles to overcome, starting with the fact that straw paper is not quite as strong as traditional wood paper, which means a greater chance of a roll breaking on press. That said, this is hardly an insurmountable barrier to adoption. The traditional paper we know today didn’t start out as easy to handle as it is now. Best to say that we will watch Step Forward’s progress with great interest.

One thing’s for sure: Between this and the efforts of companies such as Neenah Paper and Cascades among many others, we run a greater chance of our children having a tree to hug in the immediate future.

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