The plant has not yet opened, but that isn’t stopping Columbia Pulp CEO John Begley from recognition as a mover and shaker in the pulp and paper industry.

Begley was named to Fastmarkets RISI’s Top 50 Power List. The honor was published in Fastmarket’s July/August publication. Fastmarket RISI is the global trade publication for the forest products industry.

The inclusion in the No. 44 spot came for Begley’s leadership in the $250 million straw pulp manufacturing facilities nearing completion north of Starbuck in the Lyons Ferry area. It is North America’s first tree-free paper pulp mill.

The facility is expected to convert 250,000 tons per year of local straw into 140,000 tons of market pulp for sustainable consumer packaging and paper products.

Here’s what was published on Begley and the project, slated to open soon:

“An ecologist’s dream, the tree-free pulp plant has long been promoted in North America. Some have tried, but success was not to be. Now, it is about to become a reality as Columbia Pulp (Eastern Washington) is set to start up in mid-2019. Using wheat straw as a furnish, the mill uses the proprietary ‘Phoenix process’ developed by Sustainable Fiber Technologies. This mill promises to be only the first step in the increased use of agri-waste as a pulp furnish in the U.S.”

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at