Hemp poised to make a green impact in bioplastics

Hemp poised to make a green impact in bioplastics

March 27, 2019
Press Release: New Frontier Data

Hemp poised to make a big green impact

From food, textiles and automotive to building construction and nutraceuticals, hemp has been making a lot of headlines for its impact across a range of mature markets, especially since its federal legalization in the USA was mandated through the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill at the end of 2018. In fact, hemp is emerging as a potential commodity ripe to not only influence but possibly revolutionize major economic sectors around the world.

According to New Frontier Data, a forum for the legal cannabis industry, hemp is a fast-growing, environmentally friendly plant that can be produced at low cost. Not only is it one of the world’s most diversely applied and sustainable crops, but it has some 25,000 documented applications, or so many uses and by-products as to have driven farmers to embrace the crop as a hedge against traditional but lower-value crops such as soy, cotton, canola and alfalfa.

As detailed in New Frontier Data’s recent report, The Global State of Hemp: 2019 Industry Outlook, during the early 1990s there were fewer than 10 countries growing hemp within an organized commercial market. Today, there are three dozen countries commercially growing hemp, with more than another dozen conducting research. In all, there are about 50 countries actively cultivating hemp, with many more considering whether to participate in the burgeoning rebirth of the industry.

Given the sheer amount of applications for the plant, there are myriad footholds for entry to industrial hemp’s related markets. For immediate purposes, a back-of-an-envelope review of motives for engagement includes at least five, according to New Frontier Data’s chief knowledge officer John Kagia:

  • The global hemp industry is growing dramatically as the plant’s versatile applications are better understood, and the costs associated with deploying such applications falls;
  • Potential rescheduling of Cannabidiol (CBD) by the United Nations this year will further accelerate both interest in and demand for CBD products, as the UN’s recommendation will be viewed as an endorsement of the compound’s therapeutic efficacy and low-risk profile;
  • Hemp could challenge fossil-fuel-based products in a range of areas. Innovations in hemp-based bioplastics and biofuels (spurred by falling production costs) will lead to hemp-based products’ challenging petroleum-based products, including (as is already being done) BMW vehicle interiors. Ever since TV host and comedian Jay Leno posted an online video of himself test-driving a 2017 Renew sports car (with a chassis fashioned from 100 lbs of woven hemp), fewer potential participants have been willing to get left behind;
  • Hemp-based foods will represent a tremendously high growth market given the plant’s rich nutritional profile, though brands and markets will need to proceed carefully in positioning such products less as any quickly dismissed health fad than rather as a durably adopted dietary option among consumer foods; and
  • Hemp cultivation in less-developed countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America will provide a high-volume, low-cost source for CBD, posing a considerable challenge to higher-cost producers in North America and Europe. Nevertheless, given the nascent hemp production in the developing markets, need will persist for the transfer of significant knowledge, technology, and capital for such emerging nations to develop the requisite processes and quality standards to sufficiently serve international markets.

Many scientists are convinced that plant-based cars are the wave of the future. Indeed, German car-makers including Mercedes, BMW and VW-Audi have long been leading the way in incorporating plant fibers in their models and the building of car shells from plants, including building exterior car panels from hemp, is the next step. Ultimately, though, increasing the use of biodegradable and recycled materials will lower the impact of vehicle disposal, which can only be a good thing – for manufacturers, car-buyers and the environment.

Plastic Free World Conference & Expo 2019 will take place from Thursday 27 June to Friday 28 June, at the Kap Europa, Frankfurt Messe, Frankfurt, Germany. To register for this highly focused and solutions-driven event, please click here. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please email peter@trans-globalevents.com

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