The environmental friendly cultivation of the Hemp crop (Cannabis sativa L.) is a key driver for economic success and the future expansion of sustainable Hemp products:
- Due to its vigorous growth and disease resistance, Hemp can be grown without the use of any agrochemicals, this is rare in agriculture today.
- In times of increasing monocultures, Hemp is an enrichment for agro-biodiversity, a true rotational crop.
The processing of Hemp into its main products and by-products such as fibres and shivs requires no chemical additives and no water. Where Hemp is used in applications it has a brought considerable ecological benefits.
Hemp fibres have some of the best mechanical properties of all natural fibres. They are mainly used for speciality pulp & paper, insulation material and for bio-composites in automotive applications.Before the rediscovry of industrial Hemp in Europe in the 1990s, Hemp fibres were mainly (> 95%) used for speciality pulp & paper. Nevertheless in 2014, Hemp pulp & paper with a share of 55% is still the most important market for European Hemp Fibres, supplied mainly by french producers.
Insulation material is the second most important application for Hemp fibres today. Insulation material accounts for 26% of the applications or if you take out pulp & paper nearly 60%. Together with other non-wovens applications like mulch fleeces which are used in gardens and agriculture. Cress growing fleeces in some European countries are the dominant medium used for cress cultivation. And other non-wovens such as mats for farrowing pigs, the share of this applications group is 30%.
Biocomposites account for 15% of the applications, without pulp & paper 33%. The only really established biocomposite market is press (or compression) moulding in automotive interior applications with a share of 96% of all biocomposites. This corresponds to more than 3,700 tonnes of Hemp fibre or about 7,500 tonnes of biocomposites (natural fibre content varies between 30 and 70%). Automotive biocomposites for interior applications are still a growing market and are used for door panels/inserts, trunkliners, spare wheel covers, parcel trays, headliners, A-B-C columns and much more.
Information provided by: Michael Rachfahl, according to European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA 2014).
Find the booklet here: http://eiha.org/documents/