Al­berta leads the way with hemp pro­ces­sor up­grade

The McLeod River Post - - Family, Farm & Garden - Photo sub­mit­ted to The McLeod River Post

The province is fund­ing up­grades to a world-class, one-of-a-kind fi­bre-pro­cess­ing plant in Ve­gre­ville to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and jobs in pri­mary and val­ueadded agri­cul­ture sec­tors.

The $800,000 in­vest­ment in new equip­ment for the decor­ti­ca­tion line will help se­cure Al­berta’s lead­er­ship in the grow­ing hemp in­dus­try and im­prove the qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency of hemp and flax fi­bres pro­duced at the fa­cil­ity.

Im­proved fi­bres pro­vide the foun­da­tion for a mul­ti­tude of prod­ucts, in­clud­ing green con­struc­tion, au­to­mo­tive parts, ero­sion con­trol, land recla­ma­tion, tex­tiles, sus­tain­able pack­ag­ing and ma­te­ri­als for the oil and gas in­dus­try.

A unique fa­cil­ity in an emerg­ing mar­ket Es­tab­lished in 2010 with a $3.9-mil­lion Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta in­vest­ment, the Ve­gre­ville fi­bre decor­ti­ca­tion pro­cess­ing plant is the only one of its kind in the world.

Serv­ing as a cat­a­lyst for in­dus­try growth, the pilot plant has been in­stru­men­tal in ad­vanc­ing Al­berta’s po­ten­tial in the emerg­ing hemp mar­ket. The fa­cil­ity is a crit­i­cal bridge for in­dus­try, sup­port­ing re­search and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.

“The equip­ment up­grades at this unique fa­cil­ity will help en­sure that Al­berta is at the cut­ting edge of the grow­ing hemp fi­bre sec­tor. The im­prove­ments in pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency and qual­ity will pro­vide com­pa­nies with the raw ma­te­rial they need to cre­ate high-qual­ity, eco-friendly prod­ucts while also pro­vid­ing fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties for Al­berta farm­ers.”

Oneil Car­lier, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Forestry

“De­vel­op­ing and ex­pand­ing the hemp value chain pro­vides an al­ter­na­tive cash crop for farm­ers in our area. It’s an­other proof that our gov­ern­ment is on the right path when it comes to di­ver­si­fy­ing our econ­omy and pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for our pro­duc­ers.”

Jes­sica Lit­tle­wood, MLA, Fort Saskatchewan Ve­gre­ville

“As op­er­a­tor of the decor­ti­ca­tion fa­cil­ity, In­noTech Al­berta is pleased to con­tinue its long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Al­berta Agri­cul­ture and Forestry. This up­grade in­te­grates with our unique seed to fi­nal prod­uct pro­gram and strength­ens our con­tin­ued sup­port of the rapidly grow­ing and re­new­able hemp and biofi­bre in­dus­try in Al­berta.”

Ross Chow, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, In­noTech Al­berta

“Our sci­en­tists and en­gi­neers work with cus­tom­ized test batches of pro­cessed agri­cul­tural fi­bres from the decor­ti­ca­tion fa­cil­ity in Ve­gre­ville to cre­ate an ever-ex­pand­ing range of prod­ucts, with the po­ten­tial to solve crit­i­cal prob­lems fac­ing in­dus­tries world­wide. Our Ter­rafi­bre prod­ucts use Cana­dian-grown fi­bres that are mainly decor­ti­cated and cleaned at the Ve­gre­ville fa­cil­ity and then man­u­fac­tured in Dray­ton Val­ley. We are sell­ing our high­per­for­mance and en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble prod­ucts to green build­ing, au­to­mo­tive, ero­sion con­trol and hor­ti­cul­tural mar­kets.”

Dan Mad­lung, CEO BioCom­pos­ites Group

“The busi­ness and tech­ni­cal ser­vices and high-qual­ity hemp ma­te­ri­als from the decor­ti­ca­tion fa­cil­ity in Ve­gre­ville were de­cid­ing fac­tors in choos­ing to lo­cate our op­er­a­tions in Al­berta. JBF em­ploys over a dozen peo­ple and has in­vested over $5 mil­lion in our op­er­a­tions in Air­drie. We now have Zero Car­bon builds in Bri­tish Columbia and soon in Al­berta. We have been rec­og­nized for our lead­ing-edge prod­ucts by the Canada Green Build­ing Coun­cil. We will con­tinue to in­vest more as we ex­pand our pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity and de­velop new prod­ucts.”

Terry Rad­ford, di­rec­tor, Just BioFiber Struc­tural So­lu­tions Corp.

Quick facts

• Hemp is a multi-func­tional crop with dif­fer­ent end uses, in­clud­ing seeds for food and oil, fi­bres for com­pos­ite ma­te­rial and bioac­tive chem­i­cals for in­gre­di­ents in the food and per­sonal health-care in­dus­tries.

• Decor­ti­ca­tion is the first step in pro­cess­ing which sep­a­rates hemp into its valu­able frac­tions –for tex­tiles, com­pos­ites, ab­sorbents, build­ing ma­te­ri­als, an­i­mal bed­ding, mulch and more.

• Al­berta is the sec­ond largest hemp pro­duc­tion ju­ris­dic­tion in North Amer­ica with 44,684 acres in 2017.

• In 2016, the Cana­dian hemp in­dus­try was val­ued at $340 mil­lion and is an­tic­i­pated to reach a mar­ket value of $1 bil­lion by 2023.

• Com­mer­cial­iza­tion of hemp fi­bre for var­i­ous ap­pli­ca­tions is gain­ing mo­men­tum in Al­berta with 34 new hemp fi­bre-based prod­ucts be­ing suc­cess­fully in­tro­duced to mar­ket in the past year.

MLA Jes­sica Lit­tle­wood of Fort Saskatchewan-Ve­gre­ville, meets with In­noTech Al­berta rep­re­sen­ta­tives and part­ners at ex­panded hemp pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity.

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