Separation of the lignin component of wood from the cellulose presents an opportunity to access various interesting products from the lignin fragments. The lignin represents availability of a sizable renewable resource. Vanillin, or 3-methoxy-4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, is one of a series of related substituted aromatic flavor constituents, and represents one of the potentially profitable possibilities. Vanillin production from the lignin-containing waste liquor obtained from acid sulfite pulping of wood began in North America in the mid 1930's. By 1981 one plant at Thorold, Ontario produced 60% of the contemporary world supply of vanillin. The process also simultaneously decreased the organic loading of the aqueous waste streams of the pulping process. Today, however, whilst vanillin production from lignin is still practiced in Norway and a few other areas, all North American facilities using this process have closed, primarily for environmental reasons. New North American vanillin plants use petrochemical raw materials. An innovation is needed to help overcome the environmental problems of this process before vanillin production from lignin is likely to resume here. Current interest in the promotion of chemicals production from renewable raw materials reinforces the incentive to do this.