22. July 2011 Daniel Kruse

The use of fossil fuels is currently centre stage in the on-going political debate. Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) are rising to levels that will undoubtedly result in serious consequences for the global climate system. At the same time fossil fuels are depleted, causing sharp price increases and creating relationships of economical dependency and political unrest. The prevalent opinion is that renewable raw materials, among them natural fibres such as hemp fibres, can have a positive influence on the mitigation of greenhouse gases. Therefore, fossil-based resources for energy and material use are increasingly being replaced by renewable resources with comparable functionality. Hemp fibres are very suitable replacements for a variety of fossil-based materials.
In this study, 19 fossil-based applications are compared to their hemp-based alternatives regarding the environmental impacts on climate change and primary energy use. The products are compared based on their functionality and based on a unit of area. Both approaches are crucial for the comparison and improvement of products. Not only the use of fossil fuels but also the use of land will become a limiting factor in the future. The use of hemp fibres requires land for the cultivation of hemp. However land is not limitlessly available, instead demand for it is growing and land use efficiency will be an increasingly important factor as competition rises for food, feed, energy, materials, urban areas and protected natural zones. (…)
Download the whole study: 11-07-07_META-LCA_Hemp_Fibre_Products.pdf