It’s fair to say that the origins of modern American hemp paper lie in Germany. After all, its inventor Georg Schlichten is a native of Germany.
After immigration to America from Germany, G.V. Schlichten settled in San Diego, California. Because of his passion for hemp, he brought the development of modern decor here. Before the advent of the Schlichten Decorticator, hemp production required an enormous workforce. For example, countless laborers painstakingly cleaned cannabis trunks with hand tools until the fibers were torn off, then used to process paper.
However, prior to that, the fibers had been milled for so long and were finally crushed to such an extent that they could be used. Due to the increased labor costs associated with hemp, the raw material was much less popular in the market than cotton for textiles or cellulose for paper. After it hit the market around 1840, pulp paper quickly became the cheapest option for papermaking, especially since deforestation of the nation’s forests did not entail labor costs. George Schlichten was well aware of these issues and therefore invested all his time and financial resources in finding solutions to these constraints.
In his patent application, which he filed in December 1916, he clearly stated his intention: “to allocate funds for fibers processed in such a way that will allow the raw materials (especially hemp and ramie) to be processed with minimum cost and economy.” Rami is another fiber that has been used by humans for a long time. The perennial species, also known as porcelain herb, belongs to the nettle family, even if it does not bring stinging properties. Like hemp, it grows into large stems. The possibilities of using ramies were also not exploited for a long time due to excessive wage costs.
Schlichten was convinced that his Decorticator made it possible to “make fiber production in these mills as easy as with any conventional grain.” But a look at the proportion of modern American cannabis agriculture reveals that while the number of cannabis farmers is growing rapidly, it compares to other commodities such as the 20 million hectares of corn harvested annually. American cannabis production was severely restricted by the controversial Marijuana Act of 1937, and has been trying to return to the United States ever since. Fortunately, the growth of American cannabis is not entirely dependent on national production. The ability to buy hemp fibers internationally is what makes “Made in America” hemp paper possible today.
Recycled waste is another important raw material for hemp paper. If you look at the world’s most abundant hemp paper, you can technically say that it is 75 percent waste. But if you combine this waste paper with 25 percent hemp fiber, you have a quality end product, not garbage. Because in reality you are getting a high quality paper product that has much higher structural strength than pure recycled paper. When mixed with recycled paper, hemp fibers take on a function similar to the metal rods in concrete: they provide stability and give the material strength. Due to its low strength, recycled paper is suitable for thinner printing paper, which limits the number of products that can be made from it.
While this unique formulation is responsible for the increased strength, the large differences in materials between hemp and regular wood fibers still make paper mills and printers resist experimenting with this material. Paper mills are reluctant to risk potential damage to their equipment by not performing as equipment specially designed for traditional wood fiber. Likewise, printers only have devices that are warranted only for certified wood fiber paper.
Choosing to use sustainable alternatives like hemp means high risk and low added value for companies that also lack the necessary passion and interest in the future of hemp as such. In addition, hemp paper is quite loose – the ink is absorbed very quickly. And even if at first glance this should not be a big problem, it will mean, for example, that printers must fine-tune their settings for special paper before each individual print job.
But in addition to the many print jobs on plain paper, shops usuallyThere is no time for high-quality prints on hemp paper or there is no special equipment for this. However, there is one company in Eugene, Oregon that has made additional investments: Hemp Press. “Most other printers avoid the risk that hemp components from peeling paper can damage or clog their high quality devices, which are not covered by the warranty. But thanks to our special processes, we manage to limit these side effects as much as possible.” Hemp Press owner Matthew Glayer has worked over the past five years to improve his company’s operational processes to the point where its customized packaging and prints leave the competition far behind, but since Hemp Press is currently the only exclusive hemp printers on the market, this does not seem surprising. While the printing industry suffered heavy losses due to digitization and numerous printing houses were closed, Hemp Press experienced steady growth from the outset, helped in large part by the legalization of the American cannabis industry. The Crutch Card is one of Hemp Press’s flagship products. Formally similar to an ordinary business card, the crutch cards are perforated so that they can be used to make filter tips out of hemp paper – attractive to those who move on their own. In the interest of consumers, crutch cards are produced in their own colors.
On the other hand, the planning and production of commercial hemp paper packaging for eco-friendly premium brands is one of the fastest growing segments in the Hemp Press business. The packaging designs are first cut to size on a laser cutter. Hemp Press manufactures packaging in various shapes and sizes – the sizes are ideally adapted to the respective customer requirements and can vary. From cosmetic jars for natural products to dropper bottles for CBD oil, to vaporizer capsules and boxes for turning goods, you can find everything in the range of packaging manufacturer Hemp Press.
Even if hemp paper packaging has yet to conquer the mainstream market, it offers unique opportunities for companies that also want to participate in the growth of the hemp industry. Every order that leaves Matt Gler’s print shop ends up sowing more hemp seeds for fiber use. For example, to get paper for 500 business cards, you would need to plant about 100 cannabis seeds. Thus, each business card creates a corresponding additional demand for hemp products in the global market, making the switch to hemp attractive to more and more farmers. The future of hemp paper depends a lot on whether companies decide in the future to sell their hemp products in hemp packaging.