Hemp is a fast-growing plant that can be harvested in just four months, while trees take anywhere from 20 to 80 years to mature. Hemp has a higher concentration of cellulose than wood, the main ingredient in paper. This means that hemp paper is of higher quality than tree paper, and it is also more environmentally friendly and sustainable. In the past, hemp was used to make paper.
In fact, the world's first paper was made partly from hemp. King James I even ordered all the owners of Jamestown to grow 100 hemp plants for export. Hemp pulp is much better for paper than wood pulp, as it contains more cellulose and less lignin. However, trees eventually gained ground and hemp fiber production began to decline markedly.
This is because trees contain a relatively small amount of cellulose, the main ingredient in paper. Additionally, it is more convenient to harvest sawn logs than pulp wood (which is used to produce paper), since sawing logs are more valuable and therefore more profitable. Today, about 40% of the trees planted for consumer purposes are consumed in the production of paper. But there are other options available that are much more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Hemp paper is one such option, as hemp can be produced much faster than trees. In order to obtain additional raw material for the production of 25 tons of fiber per day, there is the possibility of using agricultural waste that is already produced on 10,000 acres of hemp land instead of securing, retaining, reforesting and protecting 40,500 acres of wood land for pulp. The image that hemp produces more paper than trees is wrong. Hemp is less efficient than wood and does not offer a substantially better yield per acre per year, nor is it as economically favorable as wood. However, the shift in perception towards industrial hemp and its increasing popularity are the result of increased awareness, scientific research and the change of laws around the world.