The hemp resources group in WA has signed a partnership with a Chinese business, to use a chlorine free process to produce hemp paper. Construction of the local mill, which has potential to expand into Australian paper and fabric production, is expected to take about two years.
Effluents from pulp and paper mills are highly toxic and are a major source of aquatic pollution. More than 250 chemicals have been identified in effluents which are produced at different stages of papermaking. Their toxic nature is derived from the presence of several naturally occurring and xenobiotic compounds which are formed and released during various stages of papermaking.
And that’s aside from the logging of old growth forests that provide wood chips to standard paper mills. To be able to call on a crop that takes 90 days to grow rather than 20 years would make for a much more dynamic business environment, for a start. Demand and pricing could be assessed much more easily. It’s a smart move. Let’s face it, the biggest donors to Sea Shepherd would have to be the Japanese paper industry, because once the Greenies are settled over the issue of whales, old growth forests are right up there on the agenda. To side step such a volatile circumstance in favour of less toxic, higher quality and quicker turnover of production makes sense in anyone’s books.
In the short term while Australia is handicapped with this neo-conservative social and neo-liberal economic feedback loop, job numbers will be discussed as an issue as well. Fortunately there’s plenty of opportunity for people to grow and process hemp for thousands of uses, as per the paper mill. Some of it’s new technology like the 3D printing filament. A lot is being rediscovered from earlier uses of hemp and traditional technologies. Prior to petrochemical domination, hemp was used for many things, including humanity’s first paper. Ever wondered why the old masters’ canvases last for centuries in museums but your cotton duck framed canvas can only be expected to last a few decades? Yep. Hemp canvas.
That’s a picture of the Magna Carta, an early human rights declaration from Britain in the 13th century. Written on hemp. As was the Guttenberg Bible and the US Declaration of Independence.
Since the Chinese invented paper, back in the day, it’s fitting for Australia to be in business with one of our largest regional neighbours at the dawn of this new era. It’s an auspicious sign.