COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL HEMP
Textiles, Apparel, and Paper Products
Pulp made from hemp can be added to recycled wood paper to make it stronger, whilst new (Hemp Resources) technology can produce environmentally sound, high quality 100% hemp paper.
Paper is an important potential market for industrial hemp fibre. Like other non-wood fibres, the advantage of paper made with industrial hemp fibre is its strength and length. The extent of the paper market where industrial hemp paper can be economically competitive is somewhat limited, though.
paper made with industrial hemp fibre is more expensive than paper made
with wood, still, there are economically feasible uses for industrial hemp
paper. These uses are speciality papers and non-wood papers (Byrd, 1998a).
The first general use for industrial hemp fibre is for speciality papers that require a stronger fibre than is available from wood, and in some cases, a fibre that is stronger when wet. These speciality papers include parchment quality papers, teabags and coffee filters, other filters, and cigarette papers. It is important to note that non-wood fibres such as flax, jute, abaca, and industrial hemp are the lowest cost ways to produce these products. Consumers are not being asked to pay more simply because these papers are made with non-wood fibre.
Using industrial hemp in the production of textiles and apparel potentially represents a major market. In particular, textiles and apparel made with industrial hemp can be produced and sold in these markets. Industrial hemp may appeal to consumers for apparel items such as clothing, hats, and bags or textile items like upholstery and rugs made with non-cotton natural fibres in general, or industrial hemp in particular.
Among these uses, industrial hemp canvas, rugs, and upholstery may be better able to compete on price with cotton or synthetic products than apparel products made with industrial hemp. This is because industrial hemp fibres, when properly grown and processed, more closely match the specifications of existing state-of-the-art canvas and rug weaving machinery than textile and apparel machinery (Kime, 1998). Machinery exists to weave industrial hemp fibres into textiles, and to process it further into apparel. Such production is already occurring in some middle-income countries, such as Hungary, and lower-income countries such as China, Romania, Russia, and the Ukraine.
Finally, a new plaster product made of a mixture of hemp hurds and lime can make strong and high quality plaster to be used in building rehabilitation and construction (Schiller, 1997). This plaster can be made at a lower price than conventional plaster materials.
Researchers in France have also used hemp products for building materials such as blocks and insulation (Le Texier, 1997). High-value animal bedding is another market in which industrial hemp products can compete. Firms in England, France, and The Netherlands are producing horse bedding made from industrial hemp hurds. This form of horse bedding has been found to compete well with higher-cost bedding made from wood shavings and treated straw because of its absorbency and biodegradability (Lowe, 1998).
Another potential product for industrial hemp might be bio-mass fuels. Industrial hemp could be converted to create methanol or ethanol, fuels that burn cleaner than fossil fuel. Further, industrial hemp-based fuels only release CO2 into the atmosphere that the hemp plant had drawn in during photosynthesis.