Sprint, Staples, Kimberly-Clark: the Litmus Test for Wheat-Straw Paper

Jun 30, 2015 12:00 PM ET
Campaign: Forest Footprint

This article originally appeared on GreenBiz

By Heather Clancy

Most people equate paper with cutting down trees, but an abundant eco-alternative covers literally tens of millions of acres across the North American prairies.

Wheat straw, typically burned or landfilled by farmers to make way for new crops, is slowly gaining credibility as a durable replacement for virgin and recycled fiber from trees. The latest evidence comes from Sprint, which will test wheat straw paper made by Prairie Paper -- the Canadian startup co-founded by actor Woody Harrelson -- in customer mailings. Office supplies company Staples and tissue manufacturer Kimberly-Clark likewise have committed to this “rapidly renewable” source of fiber.  

“This is about creating business choices,” said Keanon Swan, manager of strategy partner relationships and postal alliances for Sprint.

Over the next several months, Sprint will substitute wood-derived paper with a product called Step Forward Paper that is made of 80 percent wood straw waste and 20 percent Forest Stewardship Council certified fiber. Approximately 2.5 million customer letters and other correspondence will be printed. This is just a small portion of what Sprint will mail during that time period.

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