California State Treasurer Fiona Ma announced on Thursday that $73.7 million in tax-exempt green bond financing has been issued for CalPlant I, LLC, a company that will turn rice straw into medium density fiberboard at its Willows plant in the Sacramento Valley.
The fiberboard can be used in manufacturing flooring, furniture, doors, shelves and other products.
The plant, scheduled to open later this year, is expected to employ 115 fulltime workers and an additional 450 part-time workers during the harvest season, from September through November. It will also support 325 construction jobs as this first-of-a-kind project is being built, Ma said, in a statement.
Rice straw is a waste product created when approximately 500,000 acres of rice is grown and harvested in California each year. Currently, much of rice straw is eliminated by flooding fields and allowing the straw to decompose, which releases methane gas. The new plant will avoid that process for about 275,000 tons annually and save an estimated 17.8 billion gallons of water and prevent about 57,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere.
The bond sale was authorized by the California Pollution Control Financing Authority, which is chaired by Treasurer Ma.
“This project is overflowing with benefits,” Treasurer Ma said. “It’s a massive recycling effort that will assist rice growers, improve the environment by saving water, reduce greenhouse gases, produce high quality fiberboard for construction and renovation, and support much needed jobs in this rural community.”
CalPlant 1 self-certified the bonds as green bonds because they are consistent with the Green Bond Principles adopted by the International Capital Market Association, Ma added.
The 300,000-square-foot plant will recycle straw from up to 100,000 acres annually. It will produce 112-million-square feet of medium density fiberboard using a patented method of production that meets, or exceeds, the American National Standards Institute’s standards for the product. ■