Hemp Paper: How This Sustainable Option Could Change Worldwide Industries

Although hemp paper may sound like something innovative nowadays, it’s not something new for human civilizations at all. Societies have been using hemp products for thousands of years. Some of the most important documents in human history were written in hemp paper. The most remarkable examples are the “Carta Magna”, the Declaration of Independence, and some say even the first editions of the Bible.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, industrial hemp was a widespread raw material in occidental societies. Hemp was used to make textiles, marine equipment, ropes, paper, and much more.

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Why Did We Stop Using Hemp to
Make Paper?

As the technology and machines to extract pulp from trees developed, industries started using the wood pulp to make paper. Since the 19th century, wood is the primary paper source and is considered to be five to six times cheaper than hemp to produce paper.

Nowadays, however, hemp paper products are not entirely gone. This raw material is mostly used for cigarette papers, banknotes, and other specialty paper products. Although producing hemp paper could be more expensive than producing paper from wood pulp, it is an eco-friendly option.

What is Hemp Paper?

Hemp paper is a product that can be made from the pulp of hemp plants or the bast fiber. The process of creating hemp paper products involves mechanically smashing the pulps to make thin sheets. Experts consider the paper made from hemp as more durable and more sustainable than paper made from wood.

What Are the Benefits of
Hemp Paper Products?

Since not many manufacturers have the equipment to process hemp fiber, it can be more costly. However, there are some astounding benefits from growing hemp compared to growing wood for paper.

Hemp Grows Faster Than Trees

It is known that the hemp plant grows fast and is ready for harvest in around four months. Trees, on the other hand, can take years to grow and be ready for harvest. Yes, manufacturers may need to make massive investments to process hemp pulp for paper. However, instead of harvesting once a decade, they could harvest in an annual base. Plus, the other parts of the hemp plant can be sold as a raw material to other industries.

Hemp Has More
Cellulose Than Trees

Cellulose is the main ingredient needed to manufacture paper. While wood usually has around 40-50% of cellulose, hemp bast fibers can have up to 77% of cellulose.

Hemp Has Less Lignin
Than Trees

Hemp also has a smaller amount of lignin (5-9%) when woody core fibers can have up to 35%. Lignin is comparable to a glue that holds the cellulose fibers together and needs to be removed using harsh chemicals.

Organic paper made from hemp. Friendly to the environment.

Hemp is an Eco-Friendly Alternative

Planting and harvesting hemp is considered by many as highly sustainable processes. Here are the main reasons why:

  1. Hemp Needs Less Water: Hemp crops require less water than traditional crops such as cotton, soy, and corn. The way hemp plants grow high makes no room for weeds, reducing the need for herbicides.
  2. Hemp Heals the Soil: Growing hemp also restores the quality of the soil and decreases erosion because of how deep the roots grow.
  3. Paper Made from Hemp Can Be Recycled More Times: Plus, hemp paper can be recycled up to 8 times, while wood pulp paper only up to 3 times.

Final Thoughts: Why Don’t We Use Hemp Paper?

The answer to that question is very simple: because it’s an expensive process. Industry leaders still need to make massive investments in infrastructure to process hemp paper on a large scale. Although regulations in the United States are still being assessed, hemp products are a promising niche. While hemp earns more attention in the mainstream market, manufacturers should keep an eye in this industry.

So, are you convinced about getting
into the hemp industry?

After reading and understanding more about this booming industry, how do you feel? Are you excited as we are? The possibilities with hemp are endless!

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