Saskatchewan

Canada's first wheat straw facility to open in Regina; projected to create 110 jobs

A company from British Columbia says it is going to build a $350-million facility in Regina to process wheat straw.

Construction on $350M facility expected to begin in early 2022

The wheat straw pulp mill will create 110 permanent full-time jobs as well as 250 jobs during construction, according to Red Leaf Pulp.  (Colin Butler/CBC)

A British Columbia company says it plans to build a $350-million facility in Regina to process wheat straw.

Kelowna-based developer Red Leaf Pulp Limited says it has land located on the west side of the city and will start building in early 2022. 

This will be Canada's first wheat-based pulp mill, Red Leaf said in a Tuesday news release announcing the planned facility.

The wheat straw pulp mill will create 110 permanent full-time jobs as well as 250 jobs during construction, according to the company.

Wheat straw pulp is used for variety of purposes and is considered to be an environmentally friendly alternative to wood pulp, according to environmental researchers. The Regina facility will be used to turn wheat straw into pulp for paper products.

According to Red Leaf Pulp, using straw instead of wood to create pulp results in a lower carbon footprint, which it attributes to factors like increased energy efficiency, lower water usage and use of renewable energy sources.

"Our project provides an opportunity to enhance the utilization of existing resources and diversify revenue sources in the ag industry while creating a lower carbon future," said Martin Pudlas, CEO of Red Leaf Pulp, in the company's statement. 

The company says creating wheat straw pulp also minimizes the removal of trees from forests, which protects wildlife habitats and the natural function of trees.

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters says she is pleased Red Leaf chose to locate its mill in Regina. 

"This facility allows our city continued diversified growth in the urban-agricultural economy," Masters was quoted as saying in Red Leaf's news release.

"It will highlight innovation in one of our core industries, maximize crop value in an environmentally sustainable way and provide valuable jobs in the low carbon energy sector."

Red Leaf Pulp is the third major agriculture processing plant announced for Regina in recent weeks. In April, Viterra and Cargill announced plans to build canola crushing facilities in the city. 

The Cargill plant is predicted to employ 50 people. Viterra's plant is still in the feasibility phase, but has a targeted 100 full-time jobs.

The Cargill plant is scheduled to be operational by 2024.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. She holds a Master of Journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at laura.sciarpelletti@cbc.ca

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