It’s a long way from the quiet streets of Domain or even Winnipeg to Hollywood’s lights and action, but two local entrepreneurs and a big-name star have joined together for an unlikely purpose — to make paper.
Prairie Pulp & Paper’s Step Forward paper consists of 80% wheat straw and 20% recycled wood fibre. Sold through Staples’ Canadian stores and online site since last August, the company recently took a big step forward by having its product stocked in all Staples retail locations in the U.S. and through Staples.com
Prairie Pulp & paper chairman Clayton Manness, of Domain, is working with eco-entrepreneur Winnipegger Jeff Golfman, and famous actor Woody Harrelson (of Rampart, Zombieland, The Hunger Games, and Cheers fame) is involved as a partner. While the paper is now being manufactured at two mills in the Punjab region of India, the partners are confident that production will one day be moved to Manitoba.
"That’s the dream now," said Manness.
Golfman said they have tested the use of Manitoba-grown wheat straw combined with flax and hemp, since the company’s ultimate goal is producing a 100% wood-free paper. He added that researchers are pleased with the strength of Manitoba straw.
"We’ve been benchmarking it with local stuff from China and India," he said.
This is no short-term project as Golfman has invested 15 years of time, energy and money into the company. He and Manness say they are very pleased with Staples’ decision to stock the paper as they need to increase its distribution and use.
"We will continue to try to convince the world that this is a product to buy," Manness said.
It’s estimated that building a Manitoba mill will cost between $400 and $500 million. There’s a lot more work to be done in terms of attracting investors, said Golfman, but he’s hopeful that the dream he, Manness and Harrelson share will become a reality.