An Eastern Washington straw plant has hired a general manager with more than 40 years of experience.

David Eller joined Columbia Straw Supply in February.

The company, based in Starbuck, Wash., buys and sells wheat straw and other agricultural residuals that are used for manufacturing pulp.

“I was drawn to this position for not just the start-up opportunity, but because of the environmental impact this process provides,” Eller told the Capital Press. “It’s very exciting new technology that’s in the market. I would love to see it succeed.”

The straw plant has been running for about a year in preparation for this spring’s opening of the Columbia Pulp plant.

Columbia Straw will procure 250,000 tons of straw a year for Columbia Pulp. At full production, the mill will consume 20,000 tons of straw per month.

Columbia Straw hopes to be Columbia Pulp’s primary supplier, and does not supply other companies, Eller said.

“I can only tell you that my interaction with that group has been extremely professional, they are a great group of people,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of talent and resources at their disposal. I’m excited about being here.”

Eller has worked in the newsprint, heavy board and medium and linerboard industries.

“It’s a 100% recyclable product we can put into the marketplace and not add to our landfills,” he said. “It seems to me that we’re getting too much into different technologies that are not biodegradable and contaminate not just the landfills, but the environment in general.”

Columbia Pulp bills itself as North America’s first “tree-free” pulp mill. It uses wheat straw to make pulp for paper products and liquid bio-polymers for applications that range from road de-icing agents to animal feed additives, according to the company’s website.

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