The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill was truly momentous, and optimism grew that hemp would gain traction as a renewable resource for the production of thousands of products to revolutionize the paper industry. According to Grand View Research, the global industrial hemp market is forecast to grow to approximately $10.6 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of roughly 14%. While the anticipated growth is positive, penetration into the global paper industry could offer significantly higher growth for industrial hemp.
Historically, hemp was used as a paper alternative until the 1930s when wood-based papers were introduced. An unknown combination of forces (some suspect financially motivated political maneuverings) pushed the hemp industry out of the mainstream in favor of paper produced from trees. Today, the paper market is truly massive. In 2016, in “Think Green News” it was cited that the average person in the United States of America uses in excess of 700 pounds of paper per year. IBISWorld estimates the global paper and pulp mills market size is $428.2 billion in 2022. With the support of improvements in production infrastructure, hemp could begin to capture a portion of this giant industry. More importantly, hemp offers tremendous value as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional paper made from trees.
One of the advantages is that hemp grows much faster than trees and can be harvested in roughly four months or less. Conversely, paper-producing trees require an average of ten years, and in some cases, depending on the type of wood, up to twenty years to cultivate. In addition, approximately four times the amount of hemp paper can be produced on the equivalent amount of land required by paper producing trees. This smaller ecological footprint reduces the need for deforestation and would allow forests to replenish and regain their capability to capture larger amounts of carbon going forward.
Looking at hemp paper from a sustainability perspective, we see that the majority of non-recyclable paper products come from trees which leads to faster deforestation and a reduction of those critical carbon sinks. Hemp paper also requires less energy during the recycling process than the initial production of tree-based paper. Further, tree-based paper that goes un-recycled ends up in landfills producing greenhouse gas emissions from methane, the last thing we need right now. Lastly, less water is required to produce recycled paper, with the obvious benefit of less pollution to our increasingly critical water supply.
by Leslie Bocskor
We are excited to begin publishing a series of articles about the business environment today, and specifically my approach to it. The first one is a look at one aspect of disruption that the Hemp Industry will create. In this Blog we will begin to look at many other areas that present opportunity, some we are familiar with and others present new challenges. We are hopeful that this blog will grow, adding other forms and voices. We look forward to sharing our views with you.
About the Author
Leslie Bocskor is the Executive Chairman of Electrum Partners, a venture development company in the legal cannabis industry. Please direct inquiries to the contact form on our website.