Construction of the first wheat straw pulp mill in Canada has yet to begin, which is scheduled to be built on the west side of Regina starting in 2022.
But Kelowna-based developer Red Leaf Pulp Limited is already consulting with area growers to see how to buy their straw.
Wheat straw pulp is considered an environmentally friendly alternative to wood pulp and can be used to make tissues, napkins, cardboard packaging, and other paper products.
Joe Hinz, a representative of Red Leaf Pulp, says he is “very excited” by the possibilities this plant will bring.
âWe are looking to invest approximately $ 350 million in our project in the Regina area,â he said. “The land base will occupy approximately 160 acres, with plans for further expansion as well.”
Read Leaf Pulp says the plant will create 110 permanent full-time jobs, as well as 250 jobs during construction.
And while traditional pulp mills are often associated with a strong, unpleasant odor, Hinz says residents of Regina won’t have to worry about it. Separating the fibers from the straw is easier than separating the fibers from the wood, so fewer harsh chemicals have to be used.
âWe’re going to be pulping wheat and durum wheat straw, so we’re not going to have the odors associated with you would with a traditional pulp mill,â he said. “You won’t even know we’re in your neighborhood, as far as the smell goes.”
Hinz doesn’t expect all growers in the Regina area to want to sell their straw to the mill – some farms need it for livestock bedding, soil quality maintenance, or even mushroom production.
But if only a fraction of the region’s producers are interested, Hinz says the plant will have a lot of material to work with.
âWe estimate that in an area 140 kilometers from Regina, we will only need 10 to 15% of the straw on the acres of grain in that radius,â he said.
LISTEN | Joe Hinz of Red Lead Pulp explains why straw pulp is so special:
The afternoon edition – Saskatchewan7:20Making dough from wheat straw in Saskatchewan
Representatives of Red Leaf Pulp met with farmers in this area to gauge their enthusiasm.
âIt’s been great so far,â Hinz said. “There is interest in it. They see it as another opportunity to add value to their operations.”
In a press release, Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said she was delighted the factory was moving to the city.
“This facility allows our city to continue its diverse growth in the urban and agricultural economy,” she said. âIt will focus on innovation in one of our core industries, maximize the value of crops in an environmentally sustainable way, and provide valuable jobs in the low-carbon energy sector.