Hemp is the perfect crop for the circular bioeconomy of the future
Want to know why?
A MULTIPURPOSE CROP
The real added value of industrial hemp is that the same crop can be harvested and used for a wide array of different purposes: food, feed, cosmetics, construction materials, biobased plastics, textile and energy. Moreover, used in crop rotation, it has the potential to
achieve positive environmental externalities.
A CARBON NEGATIVE RAW MATERIAL
If used as an alternative to carbon-based raw materials, hemp would allow us to capture and store a substantial amount of CO2. One tonne of harvested hemp stem represents 1.6 tonnes of CO2 absorption. On a land use basis, using a yield average of 5.5 to 8 t/ha, this represents 9 to 13 tonnes of CO2 absorption per hectare harvested.
The versatile nature of this plant potentially represents multi-billion € downstream markets, particularly in the manufacturing of reusable, recyclable and compostable biomaterials. Therefore, hemp is capable of substantially contributing to the decarbonisation of essential products for a future-proof and thriving sustainable Economy.
A SOURCE OF NUTRITIOUS AND HEALTHY FOODS
Hemp has been a traditional source of nutritious food in Europe for centuries. All parts of the plant, except the stems, were consumed by humans. While seeds are particularly rich in high-quality proteins and have a unique essential fatty acid spectrum, flowers and leavesare rich in precious phytochemicals (cannabinoids, terpenes and polyphenols), leading to a healthy lifestyle.
Recent clinical trials have identified hempseed oil as a functional food, and animal feeding studies demonstrate the long-standing utility of hempseed as an important food source. With the plant-based food market expected to grow to €2.4 bn by 2025 from €1.5 bn in 2018, hemp represents the perfect source of sustainable protein to be grown locally and organically.
AN ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY AGRICULTURE
Hemp farming requires very low or no inputs and has a positive effect on soils and biodiversity. What is more, its processing generates zero waste. Why? Because all parts of the plant can be used or further transformed.
Beneficial effects can also be observed in subsequent crops: studies suggest that wheat yields after the cultivation of hemp increase by 10 to 20 percent.
Finally, hemp can also be used with great efficiency in land reclamation. As a matter of fact, it is considered as an optimal pioneer crop, notably because of its phytoremediation capacity.
A COST-EFFECTIVE and SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS
By maximising the use of land, hemp represents a valuable and versatile raw material capable of bringing additional income to farmers and rural communities, tackling the problem of rural depopulation. Hemp value chains need a local network of operators, capable of providing the biomass and first processing, globally connected to a community of technology and knowledge.