A long-standing paper mill in Port Alberni, British Columbia, will begin manufacturing food-grade paper for the first time in its decades-long history.
Since 1946, the Catalyst plant in Port Alberni has produced primarily printing and writing paper.
However, the company says demand for these types of products has steadily declined over the years.
“The transition to food-grade papers means meeting growing market demand, providing sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic serving containers, and advancing BC’s circular economy,” the parent company said. of Catalyst, Paper Excellence, in a statement Wednesday.
The company adds that it will use a “unique” pulping technique it developed that will reduce waste when making the new food wrapping paper.
Paper Excellence is receiving $4.5 million from the federal government’s Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program to upgrade some of its equipment to manufacture the new product.
ITIF is designed to provide capital funding to Canadian forest companies to diversify products and “ensure industry competitiveness,” according to Paper Excellence.
The Port Alberni Catalyst plant employs 310 full-time people on Vancouver Island, according to the company, which says the plant also creates 800 indirect jobs in British Columbia.
The plant also contributes $500 million to British Columbia’s economy each year and pays about $4.1 million in local taxes each year, according to the company.