Taking Stalk of Hemp Fibre
Driven by the world’s need for more sustainable industrial products, and by the benefits provided by this planet-friendly, steel-strong, bio-degradable, anti-microbial, absorbent super material - we believe that hemp fibre will emerge as one of the largest markets for this amazing crop.
Following the establishment of our food, RFL and CBD businesses - hemp fibre completes the circle of delivering value from the whole hemp plant. Blue Sky is pleased to now officially offer our partners access to a quality range of commercial hemp hurd products, with more specialist fibre products in the pipeline.
Unlocking the Stalk
Blue Sky's strategy has always been based on whole plant utilization with the wholehearted belief that by harnessing the value of the whole hemp plant, we will benefit our farming partners, our customers and our planet.
Hemp fibre changes the economics of hemp and everyone stands to benefit.
Our first strategic priority is to complete the final step of our ‘whole plant utilization’ (WPU) strategy by building a large capacity decorticator - which will enable us to process raw hemp fibre - separating the stalk of the plant into bast fibre and hurd/shive for uses in various industrial markets.
Processing hemp stalks has the potential to be a win for all parties involved. Farmers benefit by being able to monetize their hemp crop for more than just the grain value as is the case today. The environment benefits because hemp stalks absorb a very large amount of C02 in a very short period of time. Depending on the end product, the CO2 can be permanently sequestered.
About Hemp Stalks
Hemp plants can grow anywhere from 4-14 feet in a season depending on soil conditions and sunlight hours - producing an amazing amount of biomass that has the potential to be converted into a range of industrial applications. Currently, in Canada there is very little processing capacity and this potentially valuable resource is either left in the field to decompose or, worse yet, is burned.
Stalk Processing – "Decortication"
Hemp stalk processing is typically referred to as "decortication". Technically speaking, decortication is only one (albeit the most important) of several steps involved in fully processing hemp stalks into useful components. The majority of decortication capacity that exists today is located in Europe and China where the focus has been on fibre production as opposed to North America where most hemp has been grown for grain. With the absence of North American decortication, farmers end up having to burn the stalks.
Blue Sky has introduced a low-cost technology to help commercialize industrial opportunities to process hemp stalks and develop the emerging natural materials economy. Hemp stalks contain two main types of fibre: bast or long fibres found in the bark (skin) and hurd (shive) or short fibres located in the core of the stem. Typically hemp stalks contain ~20-30% bast fibre and 70-80% hurd. Each component of the hemp stalk has very different industrial application.
Uses of Bast Fibre & Hurd
Hemp Hurd (shives)
While not as sexy as hemp fibre (more on that shortly), it does have a range of useful applications. Hemp hurd is made from the inner core fibres of the hemp stalk. Processing results in a wood chip type material that is light, dust-free and highly absorbent and cheap! Hemp hurd works great for animal bedding, and as garden mulch, while its low density and high absorbency make hurd a useful material for cleaning up oil spills and other forms of environmental remediation. Finally, this naturally biodegradable product shows huge promise as a green building material in hempcrete, hemp wood, hemp tiles, insulation and more.
Bast Fibre is typically a high-value product and is used as an input into textiles, biocomposites, pulp and paper, automotive parts, and injection moulding.
Hemp fabric has been enjoying a lot of popularity lately. Not only is it eco-friendly, but hemp also offers the benefits and qualities that make this natural material so versatile. It's durable, breathable, long-lasting, anti-microbial (stink-free), incredibly sustainable compared to cotton and other fibres - and now (thanks to some clever innovations) hemp fabric can be soft and comfortable. Brands like Patagonia, Levis Strauss, Zara, Tentree and more are incorporating hemp fibre into their sustainable sourcing models.
One of the most promising applications of hemp fibre is as a replacement for fibreglass – offering a more environmentally friendly product (sequesters CO2) and offering superior performance characteristics (lighter and stronger). In addition to the traditional uses of bast fibre, recent research is indicating a very exciting future for hemp fibre in advanced materials such as batteries and supercapacitors, while hemp plastics offer huge potential as a clean, ecological, sustainable, and renewable alternative to regular plastic. Hemp plastics are actually stronger than plastic, and degrade completely between 3 and 6 months and be recycled indefinitely.
The global Industrial Hemp Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 34% and reach around USD 36 Billion by 2026 largely due to the rise in awareness among consumers about the benefits of industrial hemp, increasing legalization for cultivating it across many countries and the anticipated future of hemp fibre used across industries such as textiles, automotive, plastics, construction and more.
Blue Sky's the limit!
Currently, Blue Sky is able to produce and sell hemp hurd for wholesale customers, while we are currently in the process of building out our full-scale decortication plant.
Blue Sky Hemp Ventures provides a range of sustainable, high-quality, and exceptional value industrial hemp products throughout North America and around the globe. Established in 2017 in Rosetown, Saskatchewan, Blue Sky adheres to the most rigorous standards for food and cannabis processing in Canada.