Hemp Represents an Opportunity to Decarbonise the Textile Industry

This is an except from an Interview with the European Industrial Hemp Association -EIHA
Origonally published on: kohantextilejournal.com

Lorenza Romanes, Managing Director EIHA
Francesco Mirizzi – Senior Policy Advisor at EIHA

Why are hemp Fibers important?

Hemp fibers could bring major and positive changes to the fiber and textile sector. This is because of the intrinsic properties of the fiber, the environmental benefits of hemp farming and the great economic potential, especially in rural areas, offered by this multipurpose crop.

In terms of quality and performance, hemp fiber stands out as probably the strongest and most durable in nature (+25%/30% compared to cotton). More and more scientific publications point at the high absorption properties, IR and UV radiation protection capacity and natural low flammability.

Further promising tests also indicate natural anti-bacterial activity against a wide range of pathogenic bacteria of hemp fibers, supposedly resulting from the alkaloids, cannabinoids and other bioactive or phenolic compounds. Besides upholstery and clothing, the possible applications in textile are multiple: biomedical devices, medical equipment, wound dressing, food packaging, hotel and restaurant linen.

Non-textile applications include acoustic and thermal isolation materials for the construction sector, reinforced plastics and composites for furniture, objects and high-performing duties (hemp is already widely used in the automotive sector for its strength and lightweight).

The high number of output markets allows a healthy portfolio differentiation for processing companies and a stable revenue for farmers from virtually all over the world. Indeed, hemp can be grown in most soils and at most latitudes, which represents a great advantage in terms of logistics and local development.

Hemp also represents an alluring investment opportunity for those companies looking for decarbonising their goods, in other words, decreasing their carbon emissions profile. Because of its carbon storage potential (due to a high biomass content), the reduced need for synthetic phytosanitary products, the low water input, hemp is probably the most sustainable fiber of all.

But it’s not a question of phasing out other fibers and completely replace them with hemp: the interesting feature of the “hemp business model” is that the synergies with the existing industrial capacities are virtually unlimited. Hemp can be blended with other fibers and materials in order to increase the sustainability footprint of established businesses from a large number of sectors.”

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