As a material for paper making, hemp is superior – the fibers are very high in cellulose, making them strong and durable, and low in lignin, making it easier to process into pulp without toxic acidic chemicals.
Hemp contains 74-80% cellulose and wood only has 30-50%.
”One acre of hemp could produce the same amount of paper that 4.1 acres of trees could over a 20 year period.”
Hemp can be harvested 20 times (once per year) and trees harvested once.
The High cellulose content of hemp means fewer chemicals and less energy needed to process into pulp.
It can be made acid free and archival, so it can be passed from generation to generation and not yellow or decompose.
Bleaching hemp paper can be done using hydrogen peroxide rather than harsh acidic chemicals such as chlorine bleach, which are needed to remove lignins and color from tree pulp.
Lignins are a natural substance found in plants – they are the “Glue” that binds cellulose together. It acts as natural protection against climate, pathogens and pests, and aids in water conduction and seed disperson. Lignins are a brownish color and in order to be removed from wood, very harsh chemicals and bleaches are needed.
Genetically modified trees with low lignin content are being developed despite many “green” groups urging a global ban on them. Lignins are crucial to the health of trees, and unnaturally low lignin content would make them more vulnerable to disease.
Plants with naturally low lignins such as hemp do not require acidic chemicals during pulping.
Hemp can be whitened with oxygen or hydrogen peroxide – it does not need toxic chlorine bleache like timber.
The reduction in bleaching chemicals greatly reduces water pollution. The paper industry is one of the highest toxic polluting industries on the planet.
Dioxins found in chlorine bleaches are known carcinogens – they have been proven to cause cancer. They enter the food supply through waterways –irrigation for farming and toxic accumulation in fish that are eaten. There’s no getting around it.
Hemp paper can be recycled many more times than wood paper.
Durable Qualities of Hemp fiber:
– Holds shape
– Less stretching
– Very durable
– Mold resistant
– Resistant to UV light
– Archival – acid free – does not yellow and resists decomposition
Environmental benefits of growing and using hemp for paper
– Hemp enriches depleted soil – It fixes nitrogen and is a great rotation crop.
– It has phyto remediation properties – the roots draw radioactive waste, heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic elements out of the Earth. For this reason it was grown around the Chernobyl nuclear site.
– The deep roots prevent soil runoff and erosion
– Absorbs carbon dioxide emissions.
– Potential to end logging and destruction of forests
- This Saves habitats for plants and animals
- Saves the Lungs of the planet, which is crucial for all living beings
Growing and Processing hemp fibers for papermaking
- For the production of fiber only or for finer grades of paper, hemp is sown thickly and harvesting is done at the beginning of flowering, 4 – 5 months after sowing seed.
– Immature plants contain less lignin
Advantage to harvesting early – although the yield would be lower, the fibers would be easier to process into pulp requiring less energy. Also, there is a possibility of harvesting 2 crops in 1 season.
Hemp fiber from a crop grown for seed can also be used for papermaking. This increases value of the crop since it can be used for multiple products.
Water Useage –
Hemp requires about half of the amount of water that other agricultural crops do and is drought tolerant after the initial 6 week growing stage (Although this will result in lower quality)
- Print and copy paper, notebooks
- Fine art paper and cardstock
- Books, Magazines
- Tissue and gift paper
- Paper towels, toilet paper
- Biodegradable paper plates and cute
- Boxes and shipping products
- Rolling papers
- Eco packaging for various products
- Coffee filters and tea bags
- Hygiene products