West Linn mill tests non-wood paper, aims for sustainability

Special Reports

The company reopened the iconic mill over the summer

WEST LINN, Ore. (KOIN) — Willamette Falls Paper Company said it made its first successful trial run of non-wood paper. The mill, which opened this past summer at the site of the old West Linn Paper Company, used pulp from local agricultural waste. In this case, wheat straw.

“Our long-term focus is sustainable papermaking, and successful trials using non-wood raw materials is another step toward this goal,” said Phil Harding, director of technology and sustainability.

The initial runs last week produced both coated and uncoated paper grades using 10% non-wood pulp, according to Harding. The mill is still running more machine and press trials to refine the paper, but expects to announce commercial production by mid-November.

Willamette Falls Paper Company started producing paper in August, after parent company Columbia Ventures bought the property and machines that belonged to the West Linn Paper Company, which closed in late 2017 after 128 years in business.

At the time, Columbia Ventures CEO Ken Peterson voiced his interest in using more sustainable materials for paper production, specifically mentioning straw and, perhaps further down the line, hemp.

The mill’s workforce has grown since the summer as well, to about 120 employees.

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