Tiny Molecules Add New Life to Pulp and Paper Products

Industry News

Vancouver, Canada —141,000 jobs in BC are directly tied to BC’s Forestry Industry. This industry generates $12.94 billion towards our province’s GDP, and pulp and paper accounts for 16% of that total.

There is, however, significant opportunity to enhance the value of bioproducts from the forestry industry.

With the decline in demand of newsprint and other traditional paper products, and the need to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for challenges in other industries, there is huge potential for the forestry industry to boost uses for by-products. Two novel projects, funded by Genome BC and BC Pulp & Paper Bio-Alliance (the Alliance), will make advances to just these problems by applying innovative genomics technologies.

Led by UBC’s Dr. Sue Baldwin and valued at close to $315,000, one project will use the concept of a ‘circular economy’ to take pulp and paper mill residues, currently landfill, and use it to sequester nutrients from water at mine sites. This method would remove toxicity from the water and rehabilitate the soil. Collaboration with the mining industry is already underway to test this solution.

A second project, led by UBC’s Dr. Lindsay Eltis and valued at over $500,000, will develop biological methods that can be used to transform ‘black liquor’, a mixture of lignin and cooking chemicals which is an energy source and part of the chemical recovery system, into usable consumer goods such as adhesives, foams, and other applications. This would dramatically increase the value of black liquor and potentially enable a total increase in process output.

Both partnerships are being run in collaboration with BC’s BioProducts Institute and FP Innovations, working directly with industry partners of the Alliance. Along with UBC, FP Innovations are jointly delivering the research program to the Alliance and playing a significant role in both projects. FP Innovations also contributes $300,000 annually to the Alliance on behalf of the member companies who are part of the Alliance.

“We appreciate the investment from Genome BC to support the diversification of the BC pulp and paper industry into higher value sustainable markets.” says Bob Lindstrom, spokesperson for the BC Pulp & Paper Bio-Alliance.

“Genome BC invests in these types of projects because there is economic value attached to the science,” says Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Sectors, at Genome BC. “There is a huge opportunity to enhance the value of forestry by-products to not only add to advances and innovation in BC’s economy, but also in the interest of preserving the environment.”

These projects are a direct investment through Genome BC’s GeneSolve program, designed to bring industry and academia together to find solutions for sector challenges.

About Genome British Columbia:
Genome British Columbia leads genomics innovation on Canada’s West Coast and facilitates the integration of genomics into society. A recognized catalyst for government and industry, Genome BC invests in research, entrepreneurship and commercialization in life sciences to address challenges in key sectors such as health, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, agrifood, energy, mining and environment. Genome BC partners with many national and international public and private funding organizations to drive BC’s bioeconomy. www.genomebc.ca

Source: Genome British Columbia


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