HEMPALTA: The local, innovative company changing the world
By April 2023 edition of Business in Calgary, and Business in Edmonton 3 April 2023 4 min read
Hemp has the power to create a healthier and more sustainable planet and HEMPALTA is here to sow the seeds of change. Working with progressive farmers, world-renowned researchers and the most modern technology, HEMPALTA sustainably grows and processes industrial hemp in Alberta.
Founder and CEO Darren Bondar started HEMPALTA after selling a previous company, Spiritleaf, to Sundial Growers in 2021.
“The serial entrepreneur in me was already searching for the next big thing. I was looking for an idea that was healthy for the planet, good for the community and sustainable as a business,” says Bondar. “HEMPALTA started as a way to create something innovative while addressing sustainability.”
Bondar continues, “HEMPALTA provides solutions for a wide range of industries, including food preservation, pet care, garden care and industrial. We proudly support our local community by buying 100 per cent natural hemp grown in Southern Alberta, which we sustainably process and package at the HEMPALTA facility in Calgary.
“As one of the only commercial-scale hemp processors in North America, HEMPALTA utilizes the state-of-the-art HempTrain™ Advanced Processing system in its operations. The advanced technology we use is far less damaging to the fibers, creates no appreciable dust and in a single process separates the hemp plant into four output streams: long; strong bast fiber; a nutrient-rich green microfiber; and clean, dust-free, size-specified hurd and micro-hurd.”
In short order, HEMPALTA achieved many milestones, including earning one of 15 (out of 900 applicants) spots in the SVG Ventures|THRIVE accelerator program and being recognized as an investable Foresight 50 company for cleantech.
Bondar adds, “In November 2022 we successfully completed our first equity crowdfunding round with the FrontFundr platform, raising just over $1 million for technology acquisitions, support sales and marketing. Recently we entered a 30-month sponsorship with the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo to support their mission of animal care and sustainable habitat design practices through our premium hemp-based animal bedding for the zoo’s giraffes.”
Sustainable, ethical production is at the forefront of the work at HEMPALTA, where they believe that hemp is a miracle crop that will improve the earth with each use. “Hemp is 100 per cent biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable. It can grow in almost any climate or soil conditions. It’s Hemp to Better the Planet™,” smiles Bondar. “Through advances in cleantech and sustainable hemp processing, the next revolution in agriculture is taking root at HEMPALTA. Our sustainable practices, clean technology, innovative products and passionate and experienced team are what make us different and successful. We’re a local company with the potential to have a global impact.”
With his characteristic positive attitude, Bondar ensures the challenges faced by HEMPALTA are turned into opportunities for growth and learning.
“As of now, the biggest challenge is keeping up with the increasing market demand. We are preparing for a facility expansion in 2024,” explains Bondar. “Another challenge is the lack of education and awareness of consumers, companies, and legislative bodies. Although hemp has been legal in Canada since 1998 and in the US since 2018, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding its uses. It is often associated with the cannabis market, especially in terms of advertising, which causes issues due to community guidelines and restrictions. At HEMPALTA, we’re working to educate our audiences on the science behind industrial hemp and how it can be sustainably processed into different products that make the planet healthier.”
HEMPALTA partnered with ATB, which also plays into the brand’s success.
“ATB has been a trusted partner that has accompanied us since the beginning and continues to support us as we grow,” confirms Bondar. “We used a number of their startup programs for our first year of operation, company credit cards and other services, all of which helped us achieve our financial targets with operations and achieve growth at an accelerated rate. Their team is an extension of ours as we work together to understand the market trends and scout for opportunities ahead.”
He points out why ATB is different from other financial institutions.
“ATB supports diverse businesses and plays a key role in our local community. It has teams that specialize in key local industries such as agriculture and the energy sector. Working with a team that understands the culture is key to success as they are aware of the best practices to adopt in our business model.”
Bondar is justifiably excited about the future of HEMPALTA.
“We’re preparing to enter a potentially lucrative new market through optimized hemp hurd in hempcrete formulations. Hempsulation is an environmentally-friendly alternative to insulation, made from a mixture of hemp stalk hurds and lime binder. The resulting product is healthy, durable and sustainable. The product can also contribute to achieving net-zero GHG emissions in the residential construction sector. As we consider a future where home building companies are committed to providing sustainable and net-zero homes, HEMPALTA is committed to providing them with the cleantech solutions needed to accomplish that.”