Washington pulp mill plans to turn straw into paper

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A pulp mill is under construction in southeast Washington that plans to give farmers in the state and in eastern Oregon another option to sell their leftover wheat straw.

The East Oregonian reports that Columbia Pulp began construction late last month on a new plant near Starbuck, Washington, which will make wood-free pulp for paper products. The mill will pay for farmers’ straw that might otherwise be burned or plowed into the ground.

CEO John Begley says they plan on revitalizing the local straw industry with $13 million in annual purchases, and farmers will pocket between $5 and $10 per ton of straw.

The process of turning the straw into paper was developed by two University of Washington professors who are co-founders of the company.