HempFlax is a company in Oude Pekela (NL) that focuses on the production and processing of sustainable resources, semi-finished and finished products made from ecologically grown fibre hemp and flax.
Hempflax was created in the early nineties when Dutch entrepreneur Ben Dronkers learned about the possibilities of industrial hemp. Having discovered the Netherlands’ proud and long history of hemp growing and processing as well as its ecological value, he found his purpose: to reintroduce an environmentally friendly, economically sound, traditional crop to his homeland and then to the rest of the world. With this in mind, Ben Dronkers established the HempFlax company in 1993. In the 1995 to 2001 period HempFlax reinvented the harvesting and processing methods for industrial hemp. At the kick off of the enterprise there were no harvesting machines or bale presses able to handle “the strongest fibre known to man”. Specialized hemp harvesters were designed, developed and patented by HempFlax. After cutting the hemp crop the stalks are left behind in the field, where the bast fibres will be loosened by the effect of rain and dew. During this time the stalks are frequently turned over by a machine: the so called hemp turner. When the stalks have been sufficiently retted they are picked up by the hemp bale press and transformed into neat square bales. In anticipation of further processing the bales are put in dry stores in the warehouses in Oude Pekela (Groningen, NL). The bales are stacked from floor to ceiling: hemp as far as the eye can see.
Improved method for fibre and wood separation
The next major development in modern hemp processing was designing a machine to separate the bast fibres from the stalks’ wood core, a process called decortication. The decortication line, developed and installed in the HempFlax factory, stretches from one end of the building to the other: no less than 77 metres (84 yards). A few years later a second decortication line, measuring 55 metres (60 yards), was built to produce an even finer fibre. Currently both decortication lines process 8 to 10 metric tons of hemp straw an hour. HempFlax’ processing line does not just separate the bast from the wood, but also the leaves, the seeds and the remaining substance. These five raw materials constitute the basis for HempFlax’ currently marketed products.
Optimum use of this renewable resource
Today HempFlax harvests and processes 2400 hectares (5930 acres) of fibre hemp per annum. The crop is converted into a flexible combination of products. The processing, manufacturing, application and marketing chain is aimed at optimizing the application of this sustainable resource. Hemp wood is used as stable litter and in small pets’ cages. Hemp fibre serves as a raw material in the production of special paper. The automobile industry uses the fibre in its pressed form for manufacturing parts such as door panels and dash boards. Together, hemp fibre and hemp wood are turned into paper and construction material. All these products can be re-used several times and/or composted after use. Dust, a residual product, is already being used as compost and has great prospects as a plastic granules filler. In future the complete hemp plant may be utilized as biomass.
Mission for a sustainable future
HempFlax’ mission is to serve humankind and the environment by providing affordable, modern, natural hemp products for a sustainable future. The development of a chain of products, from farmer to consumer. This is the aim that the company has envisaged since it re-launched industrial hemp. The chain is not complete yet. It means hard work and investing a lot of time and money into research and development. HempFlax is not giving up the struggle but it needs support, in particular from retailers. Products currently produced by HempFlax are to be found on the product pages of this site. Ask for HempFlax products at your local pet shop, garden centre or equestrian sports supplier. Buy and try one of our products and see for your self the advantages of hemp.
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