Canadian Manufacturing

Canadian Hemp processor plans to use fibrous crop to make kitty litter

Company to launch product with $125,000 investment from feds, province



A stalk of hemp showing the plant's characteristic fibers. PHOTO: Natrij, via Wikimedia Commons

A stalk of hemp showing the plant’s characteristic fibers. PHOTO: Natrij, via Wikimedia Commons

GILBERT PLAINS, Man.—Hemp Sense Inc., a western Manitoba hemp processor, is kicking off a feline-friendly project with a little help from the Canadian and Manitoba governments.

The Gilbert Plains-based company has received $125,000 in funding from the two tiers of government to advance plans to process local hemp into absorbent pellets for use in kitty litter.

“Hemp Sense’s innovative product converts straw that would likely otherwise be burned into a high-end green product,” Ron Kostyshyn, Manitoba’s Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister, said. “This product will reduce the industry’s carbon footprint while also growing the rural, green economy.”

The company plans to put the investment toward new equipment that will allow it to reach North America’s $2.6 billion kitty litter market. A dust-free product, hemp can absorb up to five times its weight in water. In addition to being “perfect” for use in the sometimes messy household chore, the company said the product may also have the potential to clean up oil and chemical spills.

“The equipment added by this program will mean additional processing flexibility and capacity for Hemp Sense to manufacture and market diverse new products,” the company’s president, Lyall Bates, said. “We are creating the first hemp products for the absorbent market in North America and we have additional product plans in the near future which could bring added income to hemp farmers looking for new uses for their crop.”

The Canadian government noted that Manitoba accounts for between 20 and 25 per cent of the hemp grown in western Canada.

“Unused hemp straw does not biodegrade quickly, so this new, absorbent product will create a market for excess hemp that might otherwise go to waste,” the government said.

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