UBC institute to repurpose wood waste

The federal government is providing funding of over $3.5 million in support for the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) BioProducts Institute.

This funding will support the development, scale-up, and production of sustainable bioproducts, such as filters, adhesives, lightweight materials, and personal protective equipment. Using waste and residue from B.C. forests, this approach will create alternatives to plastic-based, single use products.

The pulp and paper sector is a key component of the British Columbia forestry industry which has made important contributions to the economy of the province. However, global challenges, such as reduced demand, lower prices, and supply shortages have significantly affected the sector in recent years.

Pulp and paper mills in B.C. must continue to innovate to stay competitive. UBC’s BioProducts Institute will help mills in the province become bioproduct or biorefinery mills, creating sustainable materials for use in the medical field, personal care, filtration, crop protection, and other industries.

“Scaling up development of high-value, bio-based materials from cellulose and lignin will generate economic and social benefits for B.C. and increase the long-term competitiveness of its forest sector,” said Professor Orlando Rojas, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Forest Bioproducts and Scientific Director, UBC BioProducts Institute.

“UBC’s BioProducts Institute, together with the BioAlliance and industry partners, is working on catalyzing the diversification of the forest industry into sustainable markets. We are grateful to Pacific Economic Development Canada for this new funding, which supports our efforts to help grow B.C.’s bio-economy, in alignment with the province’s goals to accelerate technological and economic growth and improve environmental sustainability.”

In 2019, the B.C. forestry industry supported 7,000 businesses and employed more than 50,000 people. The pulp and paper sector accounts for 20 percent of GDP through its 16 pulp and paper mills across B.C.

The pulp and paper sector processes close to 50 per cent of the total volume of timber harvested each year in the province, generating value to lower quality fibre that cannot be manufactured into solid wood commercial products.