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Woody Harrelson Continues to Chip Away at Deforestation with New Straw-Based Paper

Image credit: Prairie Pulp and Paper

True to his name, Oscar-nominated actor Woody Harrelson, best known for his time on the TV show Cheers and movies such as Zombieland and No Country for Old Men, also likes chipping away at environmental issues.

With a history of lobbying the government to restrict logging, Harrelson is now turning his attention to more efficient ways of producing paper. “Ever since I was pulled into the environmental world, protecting trees and stopping deforestation has really been a calling for me,” Harrelson stated in an interview with TIME. “The thing to do is change the supply. We need to change the way that paper is made.”

Harrelson speaks from an educated point of view. In the U.S. alone, people use 70 million tons of paper and paperboard each year. 33% of this comes from whole trees and plants, roughly four billion annually.

With the drive for change in mind, Harrelson is now the co-founder and investor in Prairie Pulp and Paper, a Canadian-based company that is developing a new form of paper comprised of 80% wheat straw waste and 20% forest material. This new hybrid, branded Step Forward Paper, uses only FSC-certified wood fiber; for every two boxes of paper replaced, one tree is saved.

With the paper widely available at Staples, Harrelson and his colleagues are optimistic about their new product. “It’s going to happen slowly at first, but we think this could really crescendo,” contributed Jeff Golfman, president of Prairie Pulp and Paper. With plans in place to already improve the company, this endeavor certainly succeeds in its ambition, if it has not yet been tested financially.

Harrelson’s passion and status should certainly drive this project farther than others similar to it. He added, “I’m one of those people who just became attached to the forest. The knowledge that those forests could one day be gone because of clearcutting is just too painful for me. We need to do something about this.”

In other good news for forests, Asia Pulp and Paper last week released an update to its "Vision 2020" plan, which details how the company intends to live up to its promise to end natural forest clearance in its supply chain.

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