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Much of hemp paper’s market is specialty fibers, which is considered a stable, high-priced niche market. There are about one dozen mini-mills globally, mostly in Asia and the European Union, that produce an estimated 120,000 tons of hemp paper a year.

Cigarette Paper

Pure Hemp Rolling Papers

This is the #1 use by volume for hemp fiber in Europe. Hemp is used due to its fiber characteristics, which allow for resilience, by adding tear strength to especially thin papers. According to think tank the nova institute the EU produced between 22,500 — 28,500 tons of hemp-base cigarette paper at the turn of the millennium. Consumption of tobacco has declined considerably in recent years within developed nations. However, there is an ever growing market for smoking papers, especially in developing nations.

Bible Paper

There’s quite a fine tradition of using hemp paper in Bible publishing. After all, the Gutenberg Bible, almost six hundred years old, was the first major book printed on moveable type. Printed on hemp paper, 48 copies are known to exist today, and some in remarkably good condition. Modern Bible paper needs to be thin, lightweight and non-coated. Papers need to be bright, though with no glaring as to be easy on the eyes for reading. Low linting (e.g. the fibers do not detach from each other and clump) is another bonus when dealing with densely inked pages.

Stationary

Greenfield Paper Company sample kit

10-15 years ago, several small (and larger) paper companies in North America sold hemp content paper. At one point (2002), office supply superstore Staples marketed a recycled printing paper with hemp content. However, by 2006 this product had been discontinued. Both Living Tree Paper and Greenfield Paper Company continue to market a mix of blended hemp paper products, including stationary. Using hemp content paper makes a statement, and is an excellent choice for wedding invitations or business cards.

Archival Paper

The finest archival papers are not made from tree pulp. Hemp paper preserves itself very well. Tree-based papers have both low acidity and lignin content and so avoid how tree-based papers seem to quickly yellow and become brittle.

Art Papers

Greenfield Paper Company Art Paper

Hemp paper still makes for a fine variety of art papers, which is rather appropriate when you consider that the word canvas is derived from the word cannabis. Heavyweight and durable, hemp fibers makes for a very strong, yet soft canvas. Hemp’s durability compares with the finest linen used for the same purposes, and is usually sold off white and un-primed. Acid-free processing is used to produce these paper due to the low lignin content. Hemp papers make a fine long-lasting medium for prints and posters of value.

Filter Paper

Things such as coffee filters, oil filters, and vacuum cleaner bags, for example. Some paper uses need to be permeable and still maintain their integrity. Filter papers are made of very small filaments, about 20 micrometers long, that allow liquids to pass through and solids to be trapped. Paper filters also absorb compounds that metal screen filters cannot. They are healthier and cleaner.

Tea Bags

Tea Bags began as hand sewn fabric sacks and evolved to become paper based. Like other filters, tea bags need to be porous and maintain integrity when wet. Tea bags are usually made from blends, including wood fibers, natural fibers like hemp and sometimes plastic polymers. Re-useable, easy to clean, self-fill cloth hemp tea bags are available.

Bank Notes

Hemp fibers have traditionally been used to add strength to paper money, which has to hold up to frequent handling, folding, and casual movement from hand to hand. The average life of a banknote is two-three years. More countries are switching to novel polymers these days in order to better incorporate novel security features, while other nations are experimenting with hybrid paper-polymer fibers for their currency.

Hygiene Products

Hemp papers high tear and break resistance properties are useful in this specialty use. High absorption, antibacterial properties, and hypo-allergenic characteristics make hemp fibers very useful and non-irritating to sensitive parts of the body.

Blending

Reuse and recycle! Hemp fibers add strength to tree pulp and are very useful in recycling scenarios. A conventional metric is that wood fibers alone can only be recycled 4 times, while hemp fibers help extend the recyclability lifespan, up to 8-12 times.

Vancouver, British Columbia & Portland, Oregon — Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. and Hercules Incorporated, a subsidiary of Ashland Inc., today announced that they have entered into a joint development agreement for CRAiLEX™ high-grade dissolving pulp. CRAiLEX is the brand name for the purified pulp created from a patented process that is exclusively held by Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. In recent tests, CRAiLEX has proven to exhibit higher-grade value pulps than any other hard- or soft-wood pulps. The pulps are used by Ashland to create its line of cellulosic products for multiple industries.

“This is the start of our CRAiLEX technology roll out,” said Ken Barker, CEO of NAT. “In the same manner and strategy we employed to bring our CRAiLAR® technology to commercialization, partnering with an industry leader such as Ashland Inc. is a key milestone in the development of CRAiLEX. We are extremely proud of the opportunity and partnership potential in working with Ashland.”

Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. develops renewable and environmentally sustainable biomass resources from flax, hemp and other bast fibers. The Company, through its wholly owned subsidiary, CRAiLAR® Fiber Technologies Inc., has developed proprietary technologies for production of bast fibers, cellulose pulp, and their resulting by-products in collaboration with Canada’s National Research Council and the Alberta Innovates. CRAiLAR technology offers cost-effective and environmentally sustainable processing and production of natural, bast fibers resulting in increased performance characteristics for use in textile, industrial, energy, medical and composite material applications. The Company was founded in 1998 as a provider of environmentally friendly, socially responsible clothing. For more information, visit www.naturallyadvanced.com.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange Inc. nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Forward-Looking Statement Disclaimer

This news release includes certain statements that may be deemed “forward-looking statements.” All statements in this news release, other than statements of historical facts, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements or information are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual events or results to differ from those reflected in the forward-looking statements or information and including, without limitation, risks and uncertainties relating to: any market interruptions that may delay the trading of the Company’s shares, technological and operational challenges, needs for additional capital, changes in consumer preferences, market acceptance and technological changes, dependence on manufacturing and material supplies providers, international operations, competition, regulatory restrictions and the loss of key employees. In addition, the Company’s business and operations are subject to the risks set forth in the Company’s most recent Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and other SEC filings which are available through EDGAR at www.sec.gov. These are among the primary risks we foresee at the present time. The Company assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements.

Paporganics recently announced its Holiday Collection of greeting cards, wrapping paper, coordinating gift cards and ribbon made from hemp and recycled fibers. The collection is not only elegant and contemporary by design; it’s 100% environmentally friendly.

Hollis, New Hampshire — It’s no longer necessary to choose between style and the environment when celebrating the holidays. Paporganics recently announced its Holiday Collection of greeting cards, wrapping paper, coordinating gift cards and ribbon made from hemp and recycled fibers. The collection is not only elegant and contemporary by design; it’s 100 percent environmentally friendly.

According to Paporganics’ owner and founder Camille Campbell, consumers purchase a staggering $2.7 billion of gift wrap annually. That’s big business and a big potential source of waste. She sees her products as a tremendous opportunity to close the recycling loop without compromising style and quality‚ concerns consumers often face when choosing environmentally sustainable products.

“Paporganics was born out of my frustration in finding attractive eco-friendly wrapping paper,” said Campbell. “If you do a web search on ‘recycled wrapping paper,’ most of the suggestions include wrapping gifts in used grocery bags or the comics. Who really wants to wrap a nice gift in old newspapers?”

The tree-free paper for their signature Hemp Wrap collection mixes chlorine-free agricultural resources (hemp and flax straw) and post-consumer waste fibers, promoting the use of non-wood fibers and supporting the market for recycled paper. “The hemp-flax content adds strength to the recycled fibers, creating a high-quality paper not often seen in gift wrapping,” said Campbell.

All of Paporganics products are made from natural fibers or recycled materials that can be re-recycled or turned into compost after use-even the packaging. “We use 100 percent biodegradable cellophane instead of poly wrap,” said Campbell. “We want to be able to throw the whole thing, packaging and all, into the garden composter and be OK with it.”

The company uses three papers exclusively to create their cards and gift wrap: a handmade organic cotton paper, a hemp-flax-recycled blend and a recycled paper made from 100 percent post consumer waste. All of the papers are processed without the use of chlorine and printed with 100 percent vegetable inks. To ensure high quality products made with fair labor practices, Paporganics utilizes only American producers.

In addition to the Holiday Collection, Paporganics offers an exceptional selection of distinctive all-occasion Stationery, Hemp Wrap and coordinating Gift Enclosure Cards, Gift Tissue and Natural Ribbon‚ all featuring garden-inspired fruits, vegetables, herbs, animals and floral designs.

Paporganics is available for wholesale and retail purchase at select natural product retailers across the U.S. and through their online store at www.paporganics.com.

Copyright © 2005, Paporganics. All rights reserved.

Hemp Hemp Hooray! On the 5th March 2004, the Government finally tabled the Industrial Hemp Bill of 2004. Whilst it had been drafted last year as the Industrial Hemp Bill of 2003, the inability to table the legislation in the final sittings of parliament in December as had been undertaken and with a guarantee of a clear passage through by all political parties, was yet another setback for this exciting industry.

The bill was then proclaimed as an act of Parliament on the 19th May 2004 and since that time the new Registrar for the industry has been appointed removing the obstacle of having to deal with the Ministers for Agriculture, Police and Health.

We are now extremely confident of getting the industry off the ground in Western Australia and on 14th June 2004 Hemp Resources Limited lodged application number 1 for the commercial cultivation processing and manufacturing of products from the most regal plant on the planet.

From 3rd-8th May 2004, Hemp Resources Limited hosted a delegation consisting of our Chinese partners from Qingdao and Shenyang along with associates from New Zealand and other territories. The purpose of the visit was to look at various opportunities and areas in relation to the building of a 7000 Ton per annum whole stem hemp paper mill for production of TCF (totally chlorine free) hemp paper. The TCF process is the most environmentally friendly paper making process in the world and the paper and card quality is not only superior, but can be recycled many times.

A number of other exciting developments have been taking place over the past few months that include negotiations for the purchase of a textile mill in the industrial estate near the Chinese port of Qingdao. Given the shortage of hemp fibre internationally, it seems sensible to utilize Western Australia’s vast areas of land and our extensive broad acre ability to fill the void in the international marketplace. Feedstock for the textile mill alone will be in the vicinity of 230,000 tons per annum and a further 20,000 tons per annum of whole Hemp stems will be required to produce the 7000 tons of paper and card annually.

At this stage the town of Moora is the preferred option and we have been extremely impressed by the support from the staff at Moora Shire and councillors alike.

On the fabric and textile side of business, we are currently negotiating the supply of t-shirts for the Environment Centre of Western Australia and the Wilderness Society. A number of other quotes have been given on items from carry bags for the International Herb Conference to be held in September to Hemp awnings for several shops, again including the Environment Centre of Western Australia.

Our own Sandy Griffith has been busy designing a fantastic range of hemp clothing for the larger ladies and the Malaga factory has also been busy designing and creating some really special lines for our soon to open retail outlet at 842 Beaufort Street, Inglewood.

Liu Bin, President of Hemp Resources (China) Limited has only just returned from Agra in India where he has been sourcing other Hemp products that include rugs, mats and floor coverings to name a few.

All in all, things are going very well now that the legislation has finally been proclaimed and we are looking forward to taking a leading position globally in the re-emergence of this wonder crop. Enquires are being received on a very regular basis from persons wanting to open franchises and be a part of this exciting industry so we have no doubt our persistence and patience is about to reap the rewards of the many years work in setting up the infra-structure to enable the industry to succeed.

We welcome one and all to visit us at our premises at 842 Beaufort Street, Inglewood and/or give us a call on (08) 9371 8344 for further information.

Copyright © 2004, Hemp Resources Limited. All rights reserved.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada — After months of experimenting in university, college and industry science labs, the hard work of local high school students has paid off handsomely. Thirteen teams of students won more than $13,000 in cash awards and scholarships at the 11th annual Aventis Biotech Challenge — Greater Toronto.

Xinchen Wang of the University of Toronto Schools also won this award for research on the ability of a particular species of fungus to break down hemp into pulp. Her findings may have commercial value in the hemp industry and in the pulp and paper industry. This student’s mentor was Dr. Martin Hubbes of the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto.

Copyright © 2004, Canada NewsWire. All rights reserved.

The paperless office is still a distant dream. In the interim, we should be recycling more and developing alternatives to wood-based paper.

While many futurists predicted that we’d be enjoying the paperless office around this time, Americans are still at the epicenter of a paper blizzard. Were you under the impression that the electronic age would free us from all that? According to The Myth of the Paperless Office, a company’s use of e-mail causes an average 40 percent increase in paper consumption. The demand for ream after ream of white paper is putting a huge strain not only on America’s forests, but the world’s. And it’s forcing the environmental movement to consider the alternatives.

The U.S. currently gobbles up some 200 million tons of wood products annually, with consumption increasing by four percent every year. The pulp and paper industry is the biggest culprit. U.S. paper producers alone consume one billion trees — or 12,430 square miles of forests — every year, while producing 735 pounds of paper for every American.

The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, but consumes 30 percent of the world’s paper. Only five percent of America’s virgin forests remain, while 70 percent of the fiber consumed by the pulp and paper industry continues to be generated from virgin wood. While logging controversies most often center around the Pacific Northwest, most of the wood pulp used for paper in the U.S. actually comes from southern forests, currently home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the continental U.S. (see sidebar).

Worldwide, global consumption of wood products has risen 64 percent since 1961. The industry expects that demand will double by 2050, keeping pace with population growth. Recycling has helped, but has not yet made an appreciable difference. “Recycling has yet to dent the world’s appetite for virgin-fiber pulp,” says the Worldwatch Institute.

In Indonesia, the pulp and paper industry is destroying rainforest so quickly that it will run out of wood by 2007, according to a report by Friends of the Earth. An area the size of Belgium is wiped out annually. Only 10 percent of the trees cut down for paper in Indonesia are farmed, although the industry had supposedly committed to replanting its clear-cuts with fast-growing acacia trees.

Globally, pulp for paper and other uses is taking an increasing share of all wood production, from 40 percent in 1998 to nearly 60 percent over the next 50 years. In the same time span, easily accessible and inexpensive sources of wood are disappearing. Because of the rapid consumption of virgin forests in places as far apart as Canada and Southeast Asia, forest restoration has not been able to keep pace with the demand for wood products.

Toxic Pollution and Waste

Loss of forests isn’t the only issue. Deforestation has released an estimated 120 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the major global warming gas, into the atmosphere. The pulp and paper industry is the third-largest industrial polluter in both Canada and the U.S., releasing more than 220 million pounds of toxic pollution into the air, ground and water each year.

Much of that pollution is the byproduct of the three million tons of chlorine used annually to bleach wood pulp white. Chlorine bleaching is a major source of the potent carcinogen dioxin, which is routinely discharged into rivers and streams with wastewater. As a result, dioxin is now ubiquitous in our environment, found throughout the world in air, water, soil and food. Every woman alive today carries some trace of dioxin in her breast milk. Dioxin is considered one of the most toxic substances ever produced, and has been known to cause cancer, liver failure, miscarriage, birth defects and genetic damage in laboratory animals.

The U.S. paper industry has been aware of the dioxin problem since at least 1985, but has been very slow to act on alternatives (see sidebar). In Europe, chlorine bleaching is being phased out. That has only been proposed in the U.S., despite the fact that the American Public Health Association strongly supports a phase-out. In Sweden, pulp mills have to meet stringent standards, and were required to reduce chlorine content by 90 percent as early as 1993. When they have to, American companies such as Proctor and Gamble can go virtually chlorine-free: The Pampers exported to Sweden, for example, are made without a chlorine-bleaching process, unlike those wrapping U.S. babies.

Paper is also the dominant material in solid waste. And in the United States, paper-producing companies are the third-largest energy consumer, with a pace that keeps quickening.

It’s not surprising that, given all these environmental negatives, the paper industry would wrap itself in a green mantle. International Paper, for instance, issued a Sustainability Report in 2002 that cites its role as “among the largest owners of sustainably managed private forestland in the world.” Its raw material is trees, the report says, “the world’s greatest renewable resource.” It participates in forest certification programs and voluntary partnerships and strictly adheres to environmental regulations. And according to the American Forest and Paper Association, U.S. papermakers recycle enough paper every day to fill a 15-mile-long train of boxcars. Since 1990, the recovered paper would fill 200 football stadiums to a height of 100 feet.

While some of this is undoubtedly greenwashing, Michael Klein, a spokesperson for the American Forest and Paper Association, asserts that the industry is currently using all the recycled paper it can get. “I have a problem with activists who say we have to demand more recycled content,” Klein says. “Instead, they should demand that people recycle more. One hundred percent of the paper and boxed fiberboard people put on the curb is used.” Paper activists point out, however, that a significant amount of U.S.-generated recyclable paper is actually exported. Nearly a quarter of the recovered paper in the U.S. is shipped to Mexico, Canada, Asia and Europe rather than being recycled here, reports Conservatree.

Tree-Free Paper: Great Expectations

There is vast potential for a “green” paper industry, including recycled and natural fibers, that could not only spare trees but also produce paper with minimal environmental impact overall, but it needs an infusion of both public interest and research funding. It is presently, at best, a $20 million sales niche in a $230 billion U.S. industry, asserts the San Francisco-based Fiber Futures, which lobbies for expanded use of agricultural residues and other tree-free materials for paper. A plan by the Natural Resources Defense Council to open a paper recycling plant in the Bronx, New York ended tragically because of labor opposition and last-minute political maneuvering, which thwarted financing. Many small and medium-sized paper mills that handled tree-free papers have closed because of industry consolidation and the economic downturn, sending many paper manufacturers overseas for sources of pulp.

But despite these market setbacks, research continues to offer strong evidence that non-wood fibers can be used for large-scale paper production in North America. And tiny demonstration projects have been very successful, while full-scale mills are moving forward overseas. According to Fiber Futures, a dedicated wheat straw pulp mill is being built in Turkmenistan.

Progress is arriving incrementally. In Canada, the so-called Markets Initiative, with support from several major nonprofit groups and linked to the U.S.-based Green Press Initiative, has persuaded 67 Canadian book publishers to buy their paper from forest-friendly sources. The Harry Potter books printed in Canada are among the converts.

Meanwhile, paper activists are mobilizing. In late 2002, 75 members of more than 50 environmental groups from around the world gathered together to promote what they called “an environmentally and socially sustainable paper production system.” The Environmental Paper Summit promotes collaborations on the use of environmentally friendly papers, and is planning outreach to progressive paper purchasers (including social justice groups and labor unions), producers and suppliers — all in an effort to change paper consumption habits.

The Environmental Paper Summit’s steering committee included Conservatree, the Center for a New American Dream, Co-op America, Dogwood Alliance, Environmental Defense, Forest Ethics, the Green Press Initiative, Markets Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative. The process resulted in a Common Vision document that has already been signed by more than 80 nonprofit groups and corporations.

“We’re trying to stimulate demand for recycled paper,” says Susan Kinsella, executive director of Conservatree. “Environmental groups needed to express a common mission so that it would be clear the market will be there. We realized we’re all in it together, and the process created tremendous camaraderie.” A new push is desperately needed, because consumers have become complacent, and big potential purchasers have become worried about steady sources of recycled paper. Recycled fiber content slid from a high of 10 percent in the early 1990s to a current rate of less than five percent.

The Common Vision endorses kenaf and hemp production “if life-cycle analysis and other comprehensive and credible analyses indicate that they are environmentally and socially preferable to other sources of virgin fiber.” Kinsella says recycled paper “needs to be the bottom line,” but she also sees a need to increase non-wood production.

This view is common in the environmental community. Evan Paul, a Forest Ethics paper campaigner, says, “While it’s better to be growing kenaf instead of logging, we want to really look at the whole life cycle of natural fibers. We’re not sure of the full impact when it includes clearing land and using pesticides.” Paul is, however, bullish on the use of existing agricultural waste in papermaking, including corn and rice husks. “But,” he adds, “There hasn’t been a lot of development in that field, either.”

One such tree-free waste paper is made from 100 percent bagasse fiber, left over from sugar cane production. According to Reprograph’s Erik Sanudo, the new Propal paper line was launched in 2003 and hopes to find uses in stores and offices for notepads and cash register rolls. Kimberly-Clark also uses bagasse in paper towels and tissues.

The Common Vision also calls for “responsible fiber sourcing” that cuts down on virgin wood fiber use, ends the use of wood products from endangered forests, and asks for a moratorium on turning natural ecosystems into monocrop wood plantations (see sidebar).

All of this activity strikes many in the paper industry as beside the point. “We think finding a replacement for wood fiber is a problem that does not need to be solved,” John Mechem of the Washington-based American Forest and Paper Association told Well Journal. “Our group is not necessarily opposed to kenaf. In fact, some of our members have tried — and may still be trying — to make it work.”

Reviving a Movement

The new movement could spur a process that has slowed after some promising developments. In 1996, widespread protests against logging operations — and memories of the severe 1994 price hike for pulp — prompted some publishers to investigate alternatives to tree-based paper. With the cooperation of seven newspapers, Al Wong of Arbokem developed a test newsprint that was 68 percent de-inked old newspapers, 12 percent thermo-mechanical wood pulp (which is crushed with grinders using steam at high pressures and temperatures), 11 percent ryegrass straw pulp, six percent rice straw pulp and three percent red fescue straw pulp. Some 200 tons of this mixed-origin newsprint were produced and test-printed at the such newspapers as the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury-News and the Sacramento Bee.

The experiment was successful. Sue Dorchak, quality-assurance manager at the Mercury-News, says her company had evaluated the agri-fiber’s strength, appearance, runability and ability to take ink, and found only a tiny difference. She said the newspaper was both “enthused and optimistic,” but the experiment was not repeated (despite projections that the agri-pulp for newsprint would actually be cheaper than wood pulp product at a certain scale).

Both hemp and kenaf offer excellent possibilities for use as a virgin fiber replacement in newsprint, which tends to carry a high recycled content. Kenaf was first used in a print run by the Peoria Journal Star in 1977, after the federal Agricultural Research Service (ARS), based in Peoria, laid the groundwork through technological feasibility studies. ARS proclaimed kenaf to be its top alternative fiber candidate for pulp and papermaking. The American Newspaper Publishers Association became interested in kenaf and produced a feasibility study in 1981. A joint venture company, Kenaf International, was also formed at that time.

Unfortunately, once the efficacy of kenaf for newsprint was demonstrated in Illinois, ARS effectively moved on to other projects. Picking up the ball was the Kenaf Demonstration Project, which created some well-traveled kenaf for test purposes: It was grown in Texas (through the support of then-Congressman Kika de la Garza), pulped in Ohio, made into newsprint in Quebec and shipped to California, Texas and Florida for printing. Hard work by a number of dedicated advocates kept the dream of kenaf paper alive until the groundbreaking 1996 newspaper experiment.

It’s uncertain if the newspaper experiments will continue. Partly because newsprint (which does not face critical strength and brightness issues) already contains more than 50 percent recycled content, Arbokem and other companies now focus on other paper markets, particularly those (including writing paper and bright white boxboard) that currently uses high amounts of virgin fiber.

The advantages of alternative fiber paper are many. “Under favorable conditions, kenaf can be several times more productive than trees on a per-acre basis,” says fibers expert E.L. Whitely. “Kenaf dry material could be produced at about half the cost per unit of producing pulpwood.” Kenaf paper can also be produced without chlorine bleaching, advocates say. A Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) study called “A Search for New Fiber Crops” demonstrated that alternative fibers require less energy and chemical use in processing than standard wood sources. According to the “Using Less Wood” fact sheet, energy use can be cut by 30 percent in the mechanical pulp and refining process with alternative fibers.

The environmental website Ecomall reports that one acre of hemp can produce as much usable fiber as four acres of trees. It adds that hemp paper is longer lasting than wood pulp, stronger, and both acid-and chlorine-free. Hemp advocates point out that hemp-based paper can be recycled seven times, versus only four for wood pulp.

There is the potential for large-scale commercialization of tree-free paper, but there remain a number of obstacles, many of them agricultural. As Daniel Kugler’s report “Non-Wood Fiber Crops” demonstrates, a major barrier is the lack of processing plants and commercial-scale agricultural equipment. Many of the test plots have been harvested using equipment borrowed from other industries, including sugar cane and cotton. But kenaf harvesters have been built and tested. These problems would be easily overcome if the industry were focused on them.

Converting the paper pulping industry to tree-free raw material would be a Herculean effort. Worldwide, just 10 percent of all paper pulp comes from non-wood sources; in the U.S. the figure is less than a paltry one percent. In part because the paper industry has an enormous investment in wood as a raw material, there is little momentum today.

Jeanne Trombly, founder of Fiber Futures, says that, despite the huge amount of agricultural waste produced here, there are currently no commercial non-wood pulp mills in the United States. With the exception of one small plant that pulps U.S. currencies for remanufacture as paper, all non-wood pulp is imported. Industrial hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S. (but legal in Canada). It is in such heavy demand from small manufacturers that a thriving industry exists to, for example, grow it in Hungary and process it in Italy.

“The paper industry in the United States is at a crossroads,” Trombly says. “The traditional companies are floundering and contracting, but there’s still not much enthusiasm for applying research and development money to innovative non-woods. It’s a stubborn allegiance to the wood-based models that have brought the industry to where it is today.” Trombly points out that the strong fiber produced by hemp and kenaf blends well with the weaker post-consumer recycled paper.

At a recent University of Washington conference on the future of the paper industry, two of four student presentations focused on pulping wheat straw. “It was wonderful to see,” Trombly says, “but the paper and pulp executives in attendance were very discouraging, claiming that the technology is too expensive, or that while it may work technically, it ‘just doesn’t work for us.’”

Al Wong, a Vancouver, Canada-based pioneer who markets his own uncoated “Downtown Paper #3″for the California market, has learned the hard way that the paper business is not immediately receptive to new ideas. But Wong’s story is one of inspiring perseverance. In 1993, Wong’s company, Arbokem, designed and built a demonstration-size pulp mill in Alberta, Canada that used wheat straw, an agricultural waste that would otherwise be burned, as its basic “feedstock.” With the addition of longer-fiber pulp from other sources, wheat straw is an effective base for newsprint.

The mill’s first pulp was produced in 1994, but the operation encountered both technical problems and sales resistance on the part of potential buyers. The mill tried out a variety of agricultural residues, including California rice straw, Oregon ryegrass, Washington State bluegrass, and flax straw from Manitoba. In 1999, the mill made a permanent change to exclusive use of organically grown cereal straw.

Agricultural waste remains an enormously promising resource for papermaking. Meanwhile, both hemp and kenaf offer a sound alternative to virgin fiber, leaving the world’s fast-disappearing forests intact.

Cultivating Kenaf

Kenaf, a long-fiber plant that originated in the East Indies and is grown in the U.S., Thailand and China, is a relative of okra and cotton that is now making inroads as a wood substitute. The earliest-known kenaf production was in 4000 B.C., and the plant has traditionally been used in the making of rope, sacking, twine and matting. Research on the plant began in the U.S. during World War II, when supplies of jute were interrupted. Kenaf was part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Search for New Pulp Fibers program in the 1950s. According to the group Conservatree, kenaf was determined by the USDA to be “the best option for tree-free papermaking in the U.S.”

Kenaf Farmer

Photo © Vision Paper

Should green groups focus on increasing the rate of recycled paper?

The kenaf plant flowers at the end of the growing season, leaving a seed pod behind. The pod needs up to 90 days of frost-free weather to germinate, so it rarely survives, a factor that reduces kenaf’s ability to spread and become an invasive weed. After harvest, the whole kenaf plant is processed in a fiber separator similar to a cotton gin. Kenaf can yield six to 10 tons of dry fiber per acre in four or five months of growing time, and its advocates point out that this is approximately double the hemp yield.

The USDA revived its interest in the fiber with the aforementioned Kenaf Demonstration Project in 1986, and important advances were made in adapting the plant for modern commercial uses (including increasing its fungi tolerance). The Mississippi Kenaf Project was inaugurated in 1989. A 200-ton per-day kenaf mill was established in Thailand around this same time. American kenaf supporters were dealt a blow in 1998, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture substantially reduced its kenaf research funding, after more than 40 years of trials and $13 million in funding since 1987. It remains under intensive study in Japan, which lacks forest resources. More than 1,000 Japanese middle schools grow and study the plant each year.

Among the companies that have used kenaf in their catalogs and other paper products are Apple, Sony, Warner Brothers, The Nature Company, The Gap, Esprit International and Birkenstock. Motorola and Disney have printed corporate environmental reports on kenaf paper. Several books have been printed on kenaf, including David Brower’s Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run (HarperCollins). Earth Island Journal was the first magazine to be printed on kenaf paper, though that is no longer the case.

Kenaf could become a major fiber crop in the U.S., but efforts to establish a dedicated newsprint pulp mill for it have so far stalled because of inadequate financing. Conservatree points out that kenaf cultivation “can bring new life to rural economies shattered by the demise of their original industries.” In one such case, 40 kenaf-growing jobs were created in rural and economically depressed Tallahatchie County, Mississippi.

In 1994, the United Nations reported that kenaf was produced on about 500,000 acres worldwide, but there is considerable room for expansion. The largest producer today is China, with around 150,000 acres under cultivation. (U.S. acreage was only about 10,000 to 15,000 acres in 2003, and there is also some kenaf cultivation in Spain.) According to the 1996 report “Underexploited Temperate Industrial and Fiber Crops” by Richard Roseberg, “The potential area of U.S. kenaf cultivation could be as great as…five million acres.” The report says that in areas particularly well suited to kenaf cultivation, such as the southeastern U.S., kenaf could yield three to five times more annual fiber than southern pine. “Increasing demand for fiber for all applications should improve the economic conditions affecting kenaf development,” Roseberg wrote.

One of the strongest advocates for kenaf paper in the U.S. is Vision Paper, which planted its first experimental kenaf plots in 1990 and began producing tree-free paper in 1992. By 1996, Vision Paper was the only producer of tree-free paper in the U.S., with a crop of 2,000 acres. “Kenaf will become the main papermaking material,” predicts Vision Paper founder Tom Rymsza. “Trees don’t grow fast enough and we need to bring new life to rural communities.”

Vision Paper has been able to overcome several production hurdles, including the need for chlorine bleaching and pesticides. Its paper is chlorine-free (using a hydrogen peroxide bleaching process) and is grown without any insecticides. The company points out that because kenaf is grown for its fibrous stalk rather than for its fruit or flowers, it can eliminate the need for chemicals. There is some pollution associated with the chemical kraft process used to produce pulp from kenaf, though it is substantially less pollution than that of virgin wood pulping.

Vision Paper has completed a feasibility plan to build a kenaf processing plant in the U.S., and Rymsza says that such a plant could be operating within three years of financing. He firmly believes that kenaf could replace wood-based paper in the U.S., “though such a process would take 20 or 30 years. My view is that there is ample available acreage to grow kenaf,” he says. “The U.S. has 80 million idle agricultural acres.”

In 2004, Rymsza sees a paper industry in crisis. That presents an opportunity for the kenaf community to make common ground with the paper industry unions, which are losing jobs rapidly to overseas competition. “I just met with the Paper and Allied Chemical Workers, and I get a sense that the large paper producers are giving up on wood pulp from the U.S. and moving their business to countries that don’t have sustainable protection. I think the industry is a dinosaur using outdated models.”

Handling Hemp

Industrial hemp and marijuana are the same basic plant, but commercial varieties have a very low percentage of marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, and thus no conceivable use as a drug. Nonetheless, industrial hemp, which was Kentucky’s largest cash crop until 1915, fights an uphill battle today largely because of its unwarranted association with drugs in a highly anti-drug climate. Although High Times subscribers may constitute a cheering section for legalizing hemp, some hemp advocates see such allies as actually hurting the cause because they make the marijuana connection explicit.

Hemp is an extremely versatile product with a long history, and like kenaf has been cultivated since ancient times. The first paper sheets (circa 105 A.D. in China) were believed to have been made of hemp fiber. Hemp thus predates the use of wood for paper. Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp, though claims the Declaration of Independence was printed on it are hyperbole.

Beginning in 1840, American-grown hemp was used to make manila paper. Hemp cultivation has been illegal in the U.S. since the end of the Second World War, but its cultivation is encouraged in 29 countries around the world. The American hemp movement got started 30 years ago when Jack Herer wrote a landmark book on the many uses for hemp, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Today, hemp cultivation is still illegal in the U.S., and it is grown mostly in western and eastern Europe, Russia, South Asia and Canada. Hemp is a very strong fiber, making it excellent for paper processing with post-consumer waste, and it is also easily bleached with chlorine-free materials.

Support for hemp’s reintroduction as a source of fiber is growing, partly because hemp products made from exclusively imported fiber are now a $200 million business in North America. Vermont’s Senate has passed a resolution urging the decriminalization of industrial hemp, and the state became the 11th to pass a resolution in favor of the fiber. Several states (including Maryland, Hawaii, North Dakota and Minnesota) have actually authorized production, though the federal ban takes precedence. Hemp advocates cheered after a federal appeals court decision in February that turned back Drug Enforcement Administration efforts to stop the sale of hemp-based food products.

Dennis Carlson, a wheat farmer in Bismarck, North Dakota who is facing declining prices for his crop, is one of an increasing number of growers who would like to see hemp legalized. “We’re all desperate,” he told the New York Times. “We’re trying to find something that will change our outlook, and hemp is one of many crops.” American farmers are watching their Canadian neighbors reap profits from hemp, and they want a piece of the action.

Hemp’s revival even in the absence of a domestic supply of pulp is inspiring. According to a 1999 report, the biomass yield of a hemp plantation and a pine plantation are essentially comparable over a 15-year period.

The Boulder Hemp Initiative Project estimates that hemp paper could become a $15 to $30 billion annual industry worldwide. At present, about 20 paper mills around the world use hemp fiber, with an estimated annual world production volume (mostly in India and China) of 120,000 tons, which is about.05 percent of all paper.

Because of its low production volumes, hemp pulp remains much more expensive than wood fiber ($2,100 per ton versus $800 per ton), but larger-scale production would bring those costs down. Hemp paper can be efficiently bleached with hydrogen peroxide, resulting in a totally chlorine-free (TCF) end product. More than 50 percent of the waste can be separated through a centrifugal process, and it is almost completely biodegradable. Non-woods like hemp contain a fourth as much lignin (the glues and sugars that are in all plant material) as wood, and that means less chemical and energy demand when the fiber is pulped, reports Living Tree Paper.

Living Tree, based in Eugene, Oregon, mixes industrial hemp and flax fibers with recycled office paper to yield a tree-free ream that retails for $6.99, not an enormous price premium over single sales of $5 tree-based copy paper.

Drawbacks to using hemp for paper include its great biological differences with wood, making it a poor material for existing large-scale paper mills. This problem has been addressed with unique pulping methods called organosolv (breaking the fiber down with concentrated acetic acid or ethanol) and bio-pulping (using fungi in place of synthetic chemicals).

Getting Active

Forest Ethics focuses on convincing large paper retailers to stock tree-free alternatives. A recent campaign against Staples, the largest office superstore chain, pointed out that the company’s paper sales were “driving the destruction of our endangered forests worldwide, including in U.S. National Forests, the forests of the Southeast, and old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest.” The campaign urges the company to phase out all paper made from old-growth fiber, and to “make available paper made from agricultural fiber in all stores or other points of sale.”

As a likely result of the campaign, Staples said in late 2002 that it would increase its stocks of recycled and tree-free paper and cut back on old-growth products. Staples briefly carried Living Tree Paper hemp and flax paper, which Living Tree’s Carolyn Moran then described as “huge for us.” But the arrangement with the office products giant soon ended because Staples agreed to increase the post-consumer content of its paper to 30 percent overall, reducing its emphasis on non-wood sources. “We were actually satisfying their minimum weekly sales volume,” Moran says, adding that the company’s decision to stock many of its own private labels put shelf space at a premium. “Customer response was low and the price was relatively high,” counters Staples spokesperson Owen Davis.

In March, another activist target, mega-retailer Office Depot, announced that it was forming a “conservation alliance” with three groups, NatureServe, Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy.

“Our next battle is with the catalog industry,” says Nancy Hurwitz, project director of ReThink Paper, which works in coalition with groups such as Forest Ethics and the Dogwood Alliance. Forest Ethics, which launched its catalog campaign last year, points out that American retailers send out 17 billion catalogs annually, and 95 percent of them are discarded unread. Very few catalogs have recycled content.

In what turned out to be a temporary development, Kinko’s announced that it would dedicate a special “green machine” copier at each of its locations. In March 2003, however, Kinko’s announced a new Sustainable Forest-Based Products Policy, developed in consultation with Rainforest Action Network (RAN), that promises no use of old-growth or endangered forest fibers and increased use of tree-free papers. Some Kinko’s stores sell Neenah paper partially made from tree-free fibers, and all offer 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper — but you have to ask.

With activism against the use of old-growth timber increasingly finding receptive ears, and the already embattled paper industry suffering the double trouble of low pulp prices and devastating insect infestations on their southern plantations, the time would seem to be propitious for a revival of natural fibers. While they’re unlikely to say so, the paper giants listen when the environmental movement presents a united front (backed by the threat of boycotts) and offers a feasible plan for combining recycling with increased use of hemp, kenaf and other fibers.

Copyright © 2004, E Magazine. All rights reserved.

Alberta’s pulping sector is kick-starting a new trend that could see local farmers plant crops for paper production instead of food.

Interest in using crops such as flax and hemp as alternatives to wood in papermaking is high as rising global demand for paper clashes with limited forestry resources, said Wade Chute, manager of the pulp and paper division of the Alberta Research Council Inc.

“If I look at the total market pulp capacity of the people who have contacted me about this, I’ve got three of the top 10 players in the world,” Chute said.

“These aren’t small interests here.”

Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. is experimenting with replacing a portion of its wood pulp with non-wood fibres grown in Alberta, the first Canadian pulp company to do so.

Al-Pac president Bill Hunter is so fired up about the use of non-wood fibres that he’s considering changing the company name to Alberta-Pacific Cellulose Industries.

“I truly feel that’s what our destiny will be,” he said.

“Preliminary indications say that from a paper characteristic, these fibres are going to do just fine,” Hunter said.

Non-wood fibres from linen flax, hemp and cereal straws produce high-quality papers suitable for use as currency, security papers, and even cigarette papers.

Under Al-Pac’s preliminary plan, non-wood fibres would be processed into pulp and exported for papermaking, either as a stand-alone product or blended in with the company’s aspen and poplar pulps. Farmers would be contracted to grow the crops.

Tapping into new export markets in densely populated, paper-hungry places such as India and China is part of the push toward non-wood fibres.

Urban sprawl and public perception are the real drivers, however.

Hunter anticipates that as more people move to cities, the public attitude toward natural forests will change, resulting in a clawback of those resources to wildlife preserves and recreation areas. This will further tighten already limited forest resources, creating the need for alternate sources of fibre.

This also explains why Hunter is not flinching at the estimated $40 million to $100 million in costs to build a specialized pulping mill — a decision he’ll make in two years’ time pending the outcome of some technological problems that need to be worked out.

The ARC is working on solving the technical issues, which mainly have to do with managing effluent, Chute said.

While Al-Pac’s international customer base appears to be receptive to experimenting with non-wood fibre, Alberta farmers will have to be equally co-operative to make it a go.

Given that overproduction of traditional crops is agriculture’s biggest problem, getting paid to switch to fibre crops would be wonderful, said farmer George Friesen.

The issue will be getting paid enough, and that means more than what the land makes currently producing livestock and crops, he said.

“It has to be worthwhile,” he said.

Chute said non-wood fibres have the potential to be worthwhile, in terms of capacity, anyway. He anticipates two major projects will be announced in Alberta in the next five years. Early numbers being tossed around are in the range of 1,000 tonnes of raw material daily — for a single mill. Most mills operate seven days a week, he added.

To put it in perspective, the average yield for Alberta’s 2003 tame hay crop was one tonne per acre. There are

50 million acres of farmland in Alberta.

David Spiess, a resource data engineer with Alberta Agriculture, said the province can handle the capacity in terms of acres.

What will be an issue, he said, is balancing the needs of industry with other traditional agricultural uses of straw.

Cattle feed and bedding requirements are estimated to account for approximately 3.5 million tonnes, or about 23 per cent, of cereal straw available for all potential uses in an average year, he said.

John Christensen, manager of BioProducts Alberta, argues opportunities presented by non-wood fibres will help diversify and sustain rural economies.

“Agriculture in Alberta and Western Canada has really been built around food and feed production,” he said.

“Companies like Al-Pac know they have limited resources in the forests, and if they are going to continue to run their mills full-time, they are going to need agricultural fibre.”

The other bonus for farmers is that the crops are easily grown. Linen flax grows basically the same as poor quality hay, requiring less care and attention than higher value cereal grains, he said.

Weathering, which ruins the value of traditional food crops, is beneficial to fibre crops. But time is the biggest bonus of using non-wood fibres, said Chute.

It takes 25 years to replace an Alberta poplar. This equates to 25 crop seasons, which is plenty of time for producers to determine which varieties yield the best fibre and, thus, make the best paper.

“It takes 25 years to figure that out with trees,” he said.

Copyright © 2004, Calgary Herald. All rights reserved.

Chennai, India — Plant fibers have been used for making paper and clothing for a long time and the need for use of natural fibres has increased greatly. Among natural fibres 90 per cent are of vegetable origin and among them 80 per cent is constituted by cotton and the remaining by other long vegetable fibres like flax, jute, hemp, sisal, ramie, coir, abaca and pineapple fibres. They are classified as minor fibres.

Among the minor fibres, leaf fibres (fibres extracted from leaves) are one of the important unconventional fibres, which could be analysed and evaluated for their use in textile and paper industries. Their use is based on the length and width of fibres besides their wall thickness and cell wall composition.

The structural organisation and the ligno-cellulosic nature of the fibres directly affect the physico-mechanical properties like flexural rigidity, fineness, breaking length, density and dyeing capacity which in turn determine their use. The physico-mechanical properties could be modified by chemical treatment with alkali. The change is due to crystallisation of cellulose. The cellulose I changes to cellulose II. The fibres become more flexible and in turn beneficial to process them into yarns.

In a recent investigation leaves of 14 species comprising of Agave spp., Sansevieria spp, Furcraea spp, Ananas sativus and Pandanus sppwere used as source materials collected from germplasm maintained by the Department of Forestry, Government of Tamil Nadu. Microbial retting of the leaves in water was found to be the easiest and cheapest method of extraction of fibres.

Based on this study employing micro-morphological, chemical and physico-mechanical characteristics and dyeing properties of leaf fibres it is recommended that Agave sisalana and Furcraea spp could be utilised in paper industry and Sansevieria trifaciata and Ananas sativus (pine apple) leaf fibres in textile industry after blending with cotton/jute.

Agave spp. Sansevieria trifaciatacould be easily cultivated in waste lands at a low cost. Pine apple leaf fibres could be extracted after the fruit is harvested and serve a dual function as a fruit and fibre crop.

A. Balasubramanian
KCS Kasi Nadar College of Arts and Science Chennai

Shyamala Kanakarajan
Department of Botany
Ethiraj College for Women, Chennai

Copyright © 2000, The Hindu, Inc. All rights reserved.

The research and development laboratory adds electronics to its paper and pulp legacy.

The people at Herty Foundation love paperwork.

For years, their office’s paper has been folded, torn, stretched, measured, weighed, blown up and crushed.

Now, it’s being electrified.

Over the past decade, Herty laboratory researchers have expanded their testing of pulp and paper products to include specialty paper and synthetic fibers for use in electronic equipment.

The foundation works solely with companies to test fiber products — mainly paper. But instead of working with cardboard components or office paper, Herty’s labs now test natural and synthetic fibers for circuit boards and other electronics components.

That means some companies can’t make your cellular phone or DVD player do more until Herty researchers have tested a better circuit board.

And as consumer demand for more new technology — and old technology made with environmentally friendly materials — has increased, Herty Foundation has expanded its focus.

Herty’s history

Herty is the oldest independent research and development organization working under contract with industry in the South. It was established by the Georgia legislature in 1938 to recognize Charles H. Herty, who is considered the father of the Southern U.S. paper and pulp industry. Herty is the only available site in the world that offers lab and pilot scale development, and small production-line capability for test marketing. The project managers and operators have produced products from literally hundreds of varieties of fiber blends.

It is a state agency that is funded by its own contractual arrangements with the pulp, paper and other industries.

Herty does not profit from its work. It is a state agency that is entirely self-supporting. Last year, it brought in nearly $3.5 million from research projects it contracted with industry. All the money goes back into the foundation’s laboratories and paper mill, according to the state of Georgia’s audits department.

Herty’s clientele expanded during the 1990s, as paper companies began spending less money on research and development within their own companies and began contracting more of the work to outside labs, said Don Meadows, editor of TAPPI Journal, a publication of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, which sets many industry standards.

“There are other pilot facilities,” Meadows said. “But (Herty) has got a nice setup.”

Meadows said the non-profit combination paper mill-research laboratory is unique. Similar facilities are usually found at a handful of universities.

Although Herty is a state agency, it gets little money from taxpayers. Some bond money was used for the foundation’s expansion in 1995. Those bonds are still being paid back by the foundation.

Sue Jakubsen, Herty laboratory manager, pokes around on the screen of a computerized microscope that analyses fiber length. The $80,000 machine can measure the length, curl and kink in any kind of fiber — from chicken feathers to plastics to wood to hemp.

She walks through the lab, pointing out other machines that look not unlike letter-sorters or mail meters in any office. But these machines use ultraviolet light and microscopic lenses and ultra-sensitive scales to measure the qualities of fiber.

Complicated numbers on a printout tell researches how see-through, how glossy, how smooth, how florescent, how absorbent, how sturdy a piece of paper is. And they tell how much effort it takes to tear, crush, burst and slide paper around.

Consumers might not care about these numbers, but the companies that pay for such numbers do. They spend anywhere from $20 to $10,000 for testing at the laboratories.

International Paper has worked on several projects with Herty and has continued to use the laboratory because of its unique capabilities, said Jim Foster, an IP spokesman.

The companies want to know how to give their customers what they want, while keeping their products cost-effective and functional.

The popularity of recycled materials has been a major driving trend for several of Herty’s paper industry clients. But those clients have merged and consolidated to such a degree over the past decade, that the number of potential paper industry clients has declined.

Herty has a strict confidentiality agreement with all its clients, so foundation director Karl Counts will not name specific companies with which Herty has contracted.

But he acknowledges the clientele includes more electronics components makers than ever. Herty contracts with 15-to-20 companies at any one time, Counts said.

“We’re diverse enough to weather” the paper industry’s ups and downs, Counts said.

And its reputation should keep other facilities from surpassing their work — even stalwart researchers at consumer magazine Consumer Reports. A test of paper towel strength in which researchers dropped Campbell’s soup cans through wet paper towels caught Herty researchers’ attention, Jakubsen said.

“I’m sitting on $50,000 worth of equipment and all they’re doing is dropping Campbell’s soup cans through paper towels,” she said.

Copyright © 2000, Savannah Morning News. All rights reserved.

Windsor Locks, Connecticut — When Seth Dexter came to Windsor Locks 233 years ago, he set in motion his family legacy of commitment to the town that continues today. Not only did he begin one of the longest runs in American history of a family-run corporation, he and his descendants would touch the very fabric of the town and the state.

Dexter’s Windsor Locks plant, which makes teabags and surgical gowns, was sold to Ahlstrom Paper Group Oy of Finland for $275 million last week. Once its remaining two businesses are sold, which should occur no later than Thursday, Dexter will be no more.

The Windsor Locks plant, Dexter Nonwoven Materials, is expected to continue to operate with its current force of 575 employees. However, the corporate headquarters will close. The headquarters are located on the same spot where Seth Dexter first set up his business.

The end of Dexter, the oldest company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, was caused by a money war of sorts. The corporation sold itself, business by business, to thwart a hostile takeover bid by Samuel J. Heyman, an investor and majority owner of International Specialty Products Inc.

But though the death of the corporation is about money, the legacy of Seth Dexter is about making a difference in the Hartford area.

“Our family has been involved in quiet ways,” said David Linwood Coffin in an interview with the Courant 21 years ago. Coffin retired in 1991 and was the seventh and last Dexter descendant to run the family business.

Among the family contributions is the land used for the Windsor Locks Town Hall, the high school, its playing field and Pace Park. A descendant also deeded the land for the Windsor Locks Congregational Church on Main Street to the church for $1.

In fact, Charles Haskell (C.H.) Dexter, the third generation to run the family business, helped build the church. He was also the town’s first postmaster and played a prominent role during the heyday of the Windsor Locks Canal, which runs from Suffield and ends just south of the Dexter factory. C.H. Dexter was president of the Connecticut River Company, the association that promoted the canal construction.

During the 1800s, C.H. Dexter experimented with making paper from hemp, which eventually led to the corporation’s interest in paper making. Nearly 100 years later, the company discovered the technology to make porous teabag paper. Dexter based its success on this development and also produced the first packaged sheet toilet paper.

A Dexter descendant also had a role in locating what is now Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks. The airport was the inspiration of Dexter D. Coffin, David Coffin’s father, and of Francis Murphy, the former publisher of the Hartford Times and former chairman of the state’s Aeronautics Board. “I was in the same room with them at the old Dexter homestead (converted into a nursing home) when Bradley Field was born,” Coffin said.

Coffin’s father was an aviation enthusiast and became alarmed in 1941 when he heard there were plans to convert Brainard Field in Hartford into a military airport. Fearing that this would leave private and corporate planes with no place to go, Dexter Coffin stepped into action. He leased 260 acres from American Sumatra Tobacco Co. and sought a grant from the Civil Aeronautics Commission to help develop the land.

In the meantime, the War Department decided it liked Dexter Coffin’s idea for the Windsor Locks location. During World War II, Bradley was used as a military airstrip. After the war, Dexter Coffin’s plan was realized.

David Coffin even recalled there was some consideration to name the airport initially after his father, but the name “Coffin” was thought too morbid for an airport and deemed inappropriate. Today, more than 5,000 people work at the airport with an annual payroll of more than $94 million.

Dexter employees have continued to make a difference in the community, said Bill Fitzpatrick, vice president of administration at the Windsor Locks plant. A 44-year veteran of Dexter, Fitzpatrick said the employees have also given back to the Windsor Locks and the Hartford area.

Fitzpatrick and other Dexter employees have served on numerous boards and commissions in Windsor Locks, he said. Other employees serve the community as volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical technicians. Employees at the plant also host a holiday party at the Children’s Place each year, he said. The employees also serve the communities of Granby, Suffield, Windsor and Simsbury, Fitzpatrick said.

“Through the years, Dexter has been a wonderful corporate citizen with numerous philanthropic activities,” he said. “But more important than that are the donations of time by the employees. You need hands to do the work and our employees have been very unselfish with that kind of work.”

“Ahlstrom has a very similar corporate culture,” Fitzpatrick said. “We believe our employees will continue serving the community and expect Ahlstrom to be a fine corporate citizen as well.”

Sources:

  1. Hartford Courant Sunday Magazine, “Empire Based on Tea Bags,” Jan. 14, 1979;
  2. The Connecticut Historical Society;
  3. “The History of the Dexter Corporation” by David Linwood Coffin, 1967;
  4. “The House of Dexter” by Howard Marcus Strong, 1915;
  5. “Historical Sketches” by Jabez H. Hayden, 1900.

Copyright © 2000, The Hartford Courant. All rights reserved.