The Environmental Benefits of Hemp: Hemp Paper
By Emily Ledger
We could write a whole series of articles on the environmental benefits of Hemp – and that is exactly what we intend to do. We recently had a look at the potential of plastics made from Hemp; now, we are now turning our attention the Hemp paper.
History of Hemp Paper
The hemp plant has been used by humans for thousands of years for a multitude of purposes, from weapons and clothing to food and building. However, one of the most important uses for the hemp plant was paper.
The earliest example of Hemp paper was discovered in China, and dated from around 200-150 BC.The earliest surviving example of texts printed on hemp paper are Buddhist texts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Surprisingly, the popularity of Hemp paper lasted until as late as the 1930’s.
Despite being in used for thousands of applications for thousands of years, the global prohibition of Cannabis in the 1920’s and 30’s had a devastating effect on Hemp industries. The decline in Hemp paper producers saw the rise of the wood-derived paper we are familiar with today.
The Impact of the Paper Industry
The paper industry as we know it today is sustained largely through the use of pulp from trees. It is estimated that tree paper production has increased by 400% in the last 40 years, and at the same time, deforestation has continued to increase around the world.
According to the National Geographic, an area of forest the size of Panama is cut down every year. A 2015 study in the journal ‘Nature’ claimed that since humans began clearing forests, 46% of the world’s trees have been felled.
This scale of deforestation is by no means solely down to the paper industry. However, it is an important consideration when comparing the environmental impact of Hemp and wood paper.
It is thought that, over a 20-year cycle, one acre of Hemp can produce as much paper as 4-10 acres of trees. This significant maximisation of resources could significantly decrease the areas of deforestation necessary to maintain supply.
For the production of paper, the wood has to undergo a series of processes. These processes can produce large quantities of nitrogen and sulphur oxides and carbon dioxide. All of these gases are known to have devastating effects on the environment.
Add to this the CO2 that would otherwise be absorbed by trees being cut down…
Water pollution is also a side effect of the current paper production processes. As well as waste products – like lignin – chemicals are also released into water sources. Alcohol and chlorates are often used in production processes, such as paper bleaching, and can pollute water.
In comparison, Hemp has a much lower lignin content and a higher cellulose content. This means that Hemp has to go through fewer processes to make paper, which can decrease the effects on both air and water,
According to the World Atlas, 26% of the waste found in dumping sites and landfills is paper and cardboard. Despite being the most currently recycled material in the world, the number of times paper from trees can be reused, is limited.
The maximum recycling capacity for wood pulp is three times. In comparison, materials from Hemp can be reused up to seven times, making more use of less plant material.
Other Benefits of Using Hemp for Paper
- Hemp’s high cellulose (the main ingredient in paper), means that less plant material is needed to produce the same quantity of paper.
- Trees can take 20-80 years to mature, whereas Hemp only takes four months.
- Hemp paper can be more durable than wood paper, with less yellowing and cracking with age.
- Hemp is easier to harvest than trees.
- The plant is thought to be more effective than any other commercial crop or forestry at converting CO2.
- The part of Hemp used to make paper is often a waste product of other uses (e.g. CBD and Hemp skincare).
The benefits of switching to Hemp paper production are evident. However, there are a number of obstacles currently preventing the switch. The continued prohibition of the plant throughout the world – many countries require farmers to have a special license, which comes with strict restrictions.
This being said, the USA recently passed the 2018 Farm Bill with the aim to legalise Hemp nation-wide. The production of the Cannabis plant is expected to rapidly increase, as more farmers choose to make a living in the industry. There has also been an increasing number of calls in the rest of the world to legalise Hemp to the masses.
Although Hemp paper is easier to produce than paper from wood, it requires different equipment. This would be a large outgoing cost to the industry. However, this cost would likely be offset by the cost savings that Hemp paper production would deliver.We could write a whole series of articles on the environmental benefits of Hemp – and that is exactly what we intend to do. Now we're looking at Hemp paper.
The wonders of this awesome plant go way beyond clothing and food supplements. Did you know you can even use hemp paper?
Now, this isn’t exactly a new development. People have used paper made of hemp for hundreds of years. In fact, some of the most important documents in United States history may have been drafted on hemp.
Fast forward a few hundred years and hemp paper has a wide range of uses even today. It’s a quick and easy way to add an organic product into your life.
It’s always good to find ways to use more renewable materials. Even though trees grow back, we’re cutting them down at an alarming rate.
Did you know we cut about 80,000 acres of trees per day? That’s a huge amount. It’s clear we need alternatives to the things we make from trees. And this eco-friendly option can be a great solution.
What is hemp paper?
Hemp paper is a natural product that is made from the pulp of hemp.
The hemp comes from the hemp plant, a natural and sustainable crop grown worldwide.
If you love the environment and you like to use ethical products, this is a great option.
The hemp paper does not require bleaching and it uses fewer chemicals in the production process. The hemp fibers also make the paper really strong and heavy-duty.
Whether you want to create a special scrapbook or you want to use hemp paper for your writing, you can make it at home or buy it from stores.
How do they make it?
The process of making it involves the smashing the pulp into thin sheets.
Hemp was traditionally used in the paper until the last 1800s and is has strong fibers making it ideal for the material.
It can come in a range of styles, thicknesses, and feels. If you want an organic feeling and looking paper this is available as is a more traditional paper.
There is no THC in hemp paper, which means you won’t be able to smoke it like you do marijuana. Technically, hemp has 0.3% THC. However, this is not enough to get you high.
Even if you smoked 100 hemp plants, you wouldn’t feel any psychoactive effects. Rather, the hemp is natural and organic and perfect for a stronger and more heavy-duty paper.
Where can I buy some?
You can buy your hemp paper from specialty stationery makers, or you can make it at home.
You would need to have a few tools, which we will cover shortly.
Thanks to the popularity of hemp there are lots of stores both online and physical locations. You can purchase a wide range of products that use hemp from flour through to hats.
If you take a quick look online, you’ll be able to find hemp paper suppliers worldwide. You can find some from Tree Free Hemp and Green Field Paper Company.
How can I make hemp paper?
While we won’t go into the finer details of making hemp paper, you can do it yourself if you have the time and patience.
First, you will need to break down the hemp pulp to create a slurry and then mold it into a deckle.
Hold on a sec. A slurry is basically a mixture of particles in water, and a deckle is the wood and mesh frame that people use to press paper. So you’ll need one of those.
Then you will need to press it and let it dry. After all that, you’ll have one sheet of homemade paper.
Pressing and drying the hemp paper can be a slow process. However, if you like the idea of making the paper yourself, it could be worth the effort for the final result.
Making paper from hemp is sustainable and good for the environment. It’s really worth considering the next time you go to buy or make paper.
Also, it’s eco-friendly and is much better for the earth than wood pulp which is usually the key ingredient in paper.
However, it can be more expensive right now. That’s because there isn’t enough demand for hemp to replace trees in our economy. But as time goes on, we may see the price of hemp products decrease.
What are the benefits?
If you want to use a sustainable product that is ethically produced, hemp paper is for you.
Used up until the 1880s, this eco-friendly option is well known historically for its strength and usefulness.
Traditionally, the paper has been bleached and uses lots of chemicals. However, hemp paper requires fewer chemicals and is kinder to the environment. And that helps provide an ethical alternative to traditional papermaking methods.
If you’ve never used any before, why not take a chance and see what it’s like?
Last updated: May 8, 2020 Posted in: Home & GardenHemp paper has a wide range of uses and is a quick and easy way to add an organic product into your life. Why not try it out? ]]>