A Michigan paper mill has converted hemp stalks grown and pulped in Colorado into rolls of hemp paper, marking an industry milestone for integrated industrial hemp processor PureHemp Technology.
With delivery of the hemp paper rolls, PureHemp has taken a major step to establish the infrastructure to provide hemp business cards, boxes, card stock and packaging materials to companies throughout Colorado and beyond.
PureHemp developed a new biorefining technology and operates its own mini hemp refinery that rapidly converts stalks into pulp and other usable co-products. PureHemp has been producing hemp pulp during the past three years and delivering the pulp to Boulder-based Bloomin’ Paper, where the pulp has been converted into handmade paper used for business cards, packaging and posterboard.
PureHemp is the first company in the world to produce cannabidiol (CBD) tinctures from hemp flowers and then use hemp stalks to make boxes for its CBD-based products. On July 19, 480 pounds of 100 per cent virgin hemp pulp shipped from Ft. Lupton, Colorado was used to make six thicknesses of paper. As a conservative first step, the hemp was blended with 40 per cent virgin softwood pulp and 40 per cent virgin hardwood pulp, creating a 20 per cent hemp paper blend. The six different weights of paper will be used to make a variety of boxes and card stock.
“During the past three years, we’ve been making hemp paper from stalks on a small-scale,” says Ed Lehrburger, PureHemp’s CEO and a veteran hemp industry leader. “With the growing demand for hemp paper packaging, we’ve contracted with a Michigan paper mill to produce rolls of hemp paper using commercial papermaking equipment. The maiden voyage went without a hitch […] Plans are now underway to produce a 33 per cent blend of hemp paper followed by a 50 per cent blend later in 2019.”
Lehrburger says that a pound of hemp pulp can replace a pound of tree pulp – and hemp is fully grown about 120 days after planting.
Lehrburger, a founder of PureHemp Technology and a staunch promoter of whole plant utilization, was a founding member and is now chairman the Colorado Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee. He also serves on the board of directors of the newly formed statewide initiative known as the Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan (CHAMP).
“We made about two miles-by-22 inches of paper this month. We’re now officially open for business, providing hemp-based paper stock and packaging. The paper came out looking and feeling gorgeous. Now’s the time to establish the hemp processing infrastructure to utilize millions of pounds of hemp stalks grown in Colorado and around the world,” he says.
PureHemp’s advanced pulping technology is referred to as continuous countercurrent reactor (CCR) technology. Using a self-funded CCR pilot plant, PureHemp has demonstrated its biorefining innovation that rapidly extracts the fundamental constituents of the stalks – the cellulose-rich pulp, lignin and xylose-rich sugars – to make different bio-based products for many industries. In addition to producing pulp for papermaking, the lignin co-product can be made into bio-plastics and chemicals and the xylose sugars into xylitol.