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Re-imagining Recycled Paper with Hemp

Hemp photo by Marc Fuyà


Re-imagining Recycled Paper with Hemp

Recycled paper accounts for 38 percent of the world’s total fiber supply, yet plants like hemp, one of the most sustainable fibers on the planet, account for only seven percent.

Each year, the world devours its way through 300 million tons of paper. Not a big deal — until you consider the fact that paper comes from deforested bio-diverse woodlands. It disturbs fragile ecosystems and contributes to atmospheric carbon dioxide and global warming.

One California-based company, Restalk, intends to change that.

Restalk has completed the first prototype paper fashioned from 100 percent recycled marijuana stalk. By doing so, Restalk has engineered a tree-free paper product. “While the merit of the male cannabis plant (hemp) has been proven throughout history and continues to advance on a larger scale, the female plant which produces similar fibers, has up until now only been recognized for its medicinal and recreational applications,” a representative of Restalk explained.

The trim that Restalk recycles contains only marginal levels of THC. Throughout the recycling process, any remaining THC is removed. This, technically, makes the material legal per the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

Restalk recently appointed Kyle Tracey to serve as Chairman of the Board.

“There are tens of millions of marijuana plants grown each year on American soil,” Tracey noted. “This waste adds up to thousands of tons of bio-waste which is often disposed through outdoor burning, incinerators, landfills, and composting; all of which leads to increases in our carbon footprint over time. Restalk will tackle the problem by providing an eco-friendly recycling solution to legal cultivators across the country. We will repurpose the cannabis bio-waste into consumer products, and incentivize farmers by offering a royalty on sales relative to their contribution. While utilizing our strong network of cultivation partners, Restalk aims to create a new standard in cannabis waste management practices.”

Tissues, cardboard, shoe padding and countless other products are made from paper, and the paper industry is among the most wasteful industry sectors. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases a publicly-available database called the Toxics Release Inventory which lists the industries that pollute the planet the most and produce the most toxic waste. The paper industry is consistently listed as one of the industry sectors that produces the most toxic waste. According to the Worldwatch Institute, the paper industry pumps formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, methanol and other toxins into the air and water. What’s needed is an alternative to tree-based paper.

With the nationwide explosion of relaxed cannabis laws, the byproducts produced by the industry is growing as well. A recent ecologically-sound trend has emerged called Agripulp. Agripulp is essentially using “leftovers” from wheat, oat, barley and other crops, and processing it into recycled paper. Restalk, like Agripulp companies, want to leave a smaller footprint on the planet. Cultivation operations will now have somewhere to repurpose all that excess material.

Restalk’s CEO Lucas Hildebrand hopes to vertically expand in various sectors including composites, textiles, bio-plastics and 3D printing. Hildebrand’s team has been experimenting with solutions throughout the last two years.

Veteran growers hailing from the Emerald Triangle are pleased to support a sustainable future, especially using the hemp industry.

“We are thrilled to be able to work with Restalk. Their platform allows our farms to be more sustainable than ever. The value in packaging products from our recycled stalks is amazing,” Patrick Murphy, Founder of Emerald Family Farms said through a press release. “Consumers who support Restalk products are fully backing sustainable growers everywhere.”

Restalk is a pioneer in the sense that few companies today are environmentally accountable. Restalk production is scheduled to go live by Spring of 2016.

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