When we think of the paper industry, we may imagine Paul Bunyan felling hundreds of trees while his favorite blue ox, Babe, looks on approvingly. Logs are transported to paper mills which in turn produce notebooks, stationary, and printer paper.
However, after generations of relying on trees as the primary ingredient for paper, we are paying a huge price that is having an enormous impact on the health of our planet. We need another resource, and hemp and kenaf could be the answer.
According to Science Haven, there are more than ten negative results from the continued deforestation of our world. The most significant is the impact on our global climate:
Deforestation has a pronounced effect on the climate and geography of both local environments and also the broader global one. It’s currently one of the primary contributors to modern anthropogenic climate change. It’s estimated that deforestation is directly responsible for around 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, currently. Indirectly it contributes even more, via the mechanism of reducing carbon dioxide uptake by plants/trees. As it stands, an estimated 1.5 billion tons of carbon is released every year by tropical deforestation.
So what is the answer? We may have moved a lot of our magazines, newsletters, personal correspondence and bill paying to the Internet, but there will always be a need for paper. So how do we produce paper while reducing the need for trees?
Hemp and Kenaf Fibers are the Answer
Are you ready for the funniest truth ever? Trees are actually one of the worst materials for the manufacturing of paper. How ironic is that? An article in Tree Hugger magazine sets the record straight:
Tree pulp is not an optimal material for paper making. An elaborate series of steps is necessary to mechanically and chemically break down the rigid source material into usable pulp, and further processes are needed to render it white and smooth enough for printing. Non-tree sources such as kenaf, hemp and recycled rags are optimal materials for making paper.
Hemp and kenaf, two very similar plants, produce a fiber that is much more conducive to the production of paper products. What is the difference between hemp and kenaf? As of today, the biggest difference is that fact that hemp is still illegal to grow in most of the United States while kenaf is a legal crop.
Kenaf stalks consist of 40% bast fiber and 60% core fiber. The bast fiber can be compared to softwood, which is a high quality fiber typically used for commercial paper production. You can visit Amazon to find a few terrific examples of the quality paper produced using kenaf fibers. Even the product description touts the quality of the product:
Beautiful Japanese Washi paper made from environmentally-friendly Kenaf fibers. Acid free and OBA free base paper. Ideal for a broad range of fine art prints. Also, both sides are printable.
Our North Carolina plant in Spring Hope will soon be processing kenaf fibers. We are committed to spearheading a clean, green, American agricultural and industrial hemp revolution, like in the old good days of hemp farming. We have just started production and anticipate being able to process up to 3 million pounds of kenaf fibers per month! And as soon as the hemp crops are available we will be processing hemp in the plant.