The future of U.S. papermaking may rest on a bed of straw.
The University of Minnesota has completed tests on wheat and barley
straw as an alternative to wood pulp in papermaking. Using a blend
of 30 percent bleached wheat and barley fiber and 70 percent wood
fiber, researchers produced high-quality photocopy paper on a pilot
paper machine at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, which
offers a paper science program.
About 10 percent of paper produced worldwide is made with nonwood
fibers, usually in countries with limited wood resources, according
to a paper chemist. Wood pulp alternatives may be the future in
the United States where the paper industry is undergoing restructuring.
In addition, restricted timber sales in national forests and new
legislation regarding roadless areas are cutting into timber harvests.
Those issues and environmental lawsuits delaying some sales have
pushed up wood prices by as much as 30 percent over the past 10