As we move towards a future where global development favors nature-positive industrial materials, hemp is emerging as a natural resource that not only lightens a project’s carbon footprint but enhances it.
Hemp has a storied history alongside human civilization, arriving in North America in the 1600s as a key textile material and growing to become a high-yield, fast-growing cash crop that leaves the soil more fertile than it found it.
Today, hemp is once again helping us advance sustainable innovation in packaging, textiles, and green building materials, with the global industrial hemp market growing at a 15.8% CAGR and poised to reach 15.26 billion by 2027. If these numbers tell a story, it’s that the market for the industrial hemp industry is going nowhere but up.
With such bright prospects and a 2018 Farm Bill overturning societal and federal stigma towards hemp, leaning into hemp’s various utilities is a return to grassroots innovation.
Let’s take a look at the companies that are gaining critical mass in industrial hemp applications:
Public benefit corporation Hempitecture entered the green development space in 2018 with two innovative products built to answer the call to replace toxic building materials.
The Salt Lake City, Utah-based company is one of the first to innovate HempWool® Fiber Insulation using the inner fibrous layer of the hemp plant to replace a notoriously toxic and problematic building material in the process.
Their other signature product, Hempcrete, provides the building industry with an alternative to one of construction’s biggest nature offenders; concrete. It’s not just an opportunity to meet the growing call to use more earth-friendly building materials; hemp blocks have proven to be durable and fire, mold, and weather resistant. Hempcrete may be costlier at the onset but can help address a project’s environmental impact, take 20 to 30% off of a production time frame,, and eliminate the dying time and cement joints typically used in traditional blocks.
2. Hemp Plastic Company
The battle lines have been drawn in a world of overflowing plastic problems. The Hemp Plastic Company, out of Boulder, Colorado, has been a major disrupter in hemp-blended biocomposites and bioplastics since 2018.
Bioplastics are the growing star of the renewable packaging industry derived from regenerative crops, of which hemp has taken the lead. At a harvest turnaround of 115 days and a reputation for revitalizing soil in its efforts, hemp has proven to be a competing sustainable choice over the usual bioplastic subjects, corn and sugar.
As environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reports are becoming the norm, operations like The Hemp Plastic Company offer an alternative to a commonly used material.
Hemp-based bioplastics that utilize renewable materials don’t require significant additional capital and help partners gain carbon neutrality are poised to be a primary solution in future low-impact design projects.
3. Dun Agro Hemp Group (DHG)
Dun Agro Hemp Group sets itself apart as an all-in-one solution from crop management to bulk sales of various end products. An end-to-end solution DHG has been at it for over 25 years, utilizing over 1300 hectares of hemp crops to create and sell as 99% pure hemp fiber, hemp insulation, hemp wood, hemp fertilizer, hemp oil, and CBD products.
This American-led, Dutch company notably not only sells the goods but has been integral in consultation with many large-scale build projects, innovating as they need arise per project specification. DHG is on track to set up its first US-based large-scale hemp processing headquarters in Indiana in mid-2023
Belgian-originated IsoHemp was the passion project of Olivier Beghin and Jean-Baptiste de Mahieu, who sought to bring scalable sustainability to the construction sector.
Since 2011 they have collaborated with engineers to bring new depth to existing hemp applications, concentration on lime and hemp as a base for hempcrete blocks.
More than a decade later, with thousands of products bearing their signature products, they remain committed to advancing the sustainable building industry with training courses and equipment rentals to more easily facilitate the builds that have used over a million hempcrete blocks to date.
5. Forever Green
Though it is a family-run operation, Forever Green has proven capable of big things. Leveraging relationships with local farms in British Columbia, the company has become a rapidly expanding processor of purpose-grown industrial hemp fiber and an industry advocate for expanding the viability of hemp as a viable industrial crop in Canada.
The primary hemp fiber that Forever Green is built around has rapidly entered the natural fiber industry and finds end uses in animal care, construction materials, and other bio-composites.
Founded by Cameron McIntosh, a ceramist full-service hemp building material and installer, Americhanvre provides custom-cast hemp. This material, combined with non-load bearing hempcrete blocks, can mould itself into custom forms when set against any structural frame element.
It allows builders to replace vinyl siding, insulation, and drywall with a hemp-based material that actively sequesters carbon in the process.
Made out of the woody core of industrial hemp stalk, hemp cast, when combined with a lime-based binder, handily replaces concrete blocks.
As a result, Americhanvre allows builders to create a lighter carbon footprint as it actively sequesters carbon, takes three times less heat to produce, and is ten times stronger with only 1/6th of the weight.
7. Just BioFiber
Ecological Ecologist Herman Daly once asked, “What use is a sawmill without a forest?” Just BioFiber envisions a future where sustainable building isn’t reliant on a forest that only renews every 20 to 40 years and instead banks on a building system with a negative CO2 emissions rating.
Founded in 2014 out of Alberta, Canada, the Just BioFiber corporation is on a rapid track for international expansion thanks to its proprietary Just BioFiber Blocks, which use a patented hemp hurd and shiv-based interlocking system that boasts a 100-year lifespan.
The company supports the green building industry with three versions of the compressed hemp Just Biofiber Block; heavy duty, light duty, and foam. While utilizing the hemp-based blocks isn’t as cheap as constructing a wood frame, it comes with numerous advantages.
These include added thermal capacity, insulation, and semi-permeability, which aids in air flow exchange.
8. Hemp Inc.
Generally known for its global dominance in the CBD market, North Carolina company Hemp Inc. entered the bioplastics space in 2019 to answer the growing demand for low-impact consumer packaging materials.
As the largest hemp mill in the Western Hemisphere, Hemp Inc. has been at the forefront of developing innovative industrial uses for hemp crops.
Bioplastics are Hemp Inc.’s third foray into bespoke products alongside the previously launched DrillWall and Spill-Be-Gone for the oil industry. DrillWall is a loss circulation material (LCM) made with all-natural kenaf (a tropical brown fiber plant), and hemp cellulose is a non-toxic water-soluble additive that aids loss of fluid in drilling processes.
Spill-Be-Gone, derived from the kenaf plant, also aids the drilling industry as an absorbent that played a part in cleaning up the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
HempFlax is a European company specializing in producing and processing industrial hemp. They offer a wide range of hemp-based products, including raw materials, fibers, seeds, and finished products, such as construction materials, animal bedding, and cosmetics.
The company was founded in the Netherlands in 1993 and has since expanded to several other European countries, including Germany, Romania, and the United Kingdom. HempFlax is committed to sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, and its products often used as alternatives to more traditional materials that are harmful to the environment.
Some key benefits of hemp-based products from HempFlax include their durability, versatility, and low environmental impact. Hemp is also a fast-growing crop that requires relatively little water and pesticides, making it a more sustainable option than other crops.
Hempro is a German-based company specializing in producing and distributing organic hemp-based products. Founded in 2002, Hempro offers a wide range of products, including hemp seeds, hemp protein powder, hemp oil, and hemp textiles.
Hempro sources its hemp from organic farmers in Europe, and their products are certified organic by various organizations, including the European Union’s organic certification program. The company is committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility, and its products are designed to be healthy and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional products.
Some benefits of using Hempro’s hemp-based products include their high nutritional value, versatility, and environmental sustainability. Hemp is a fast-growing crop that requires little water and pesticides, making it a more sustainable option compared to other crops. Hemp seeds, oil, and protein powder are also rich in essential fatty acids, protein, and other nutrients, making them a popular choice for health-conscious consumers.
Watch This Space
Industrial hemp is the future of sustainable materials, from bioplastics to building materials and car parts, with an infinite amount of innovation ahead. The future holds a vast array of possibilities for industrial hemp as it promises to provide not just a greener world but an economically viable one as well.
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