Ever since the cannabis legalization process began to gain global momentum, much has been said about its medicinal and therapeutic potential, as well as the huge market that awaits behind the doors of adult-use regulation.
However, the cannabis plant has even greater potential, of which today we’re seeing but the tip of the iceberg. Hemp is a subspecies of the cannabis plant; it lacks most of marijuana’s psychoactive effects but can be used as raw material for several industries -such as textile and construction.
In fact, industrial sales are expected to triple in the next 7 years, rising from $4.71 billion in 2019 to $15.26 billion in 2027.
Reducing The Carbon Footprint
Steve DeAngelo, one of the most recognized cannabis activists of the last decades, says that hemp has the ability to replace virtually any petroleum product.
“Hemp can be grown without pesticides. Captures 22 tons of atmospheric carbon per hectare. It is a powerful phytoremediator that extracts industrial poisons from contaminated soil. And, likewise, it is a powerful tool to control erosion and remedy unproductive or marginally productive lands,” says DeAngelo. And adds: “We are only now harnessing the industrial hemp plant’s potential as a rotating crop with regenerative agriculture qualities.”
The Textile Industry
Hemp fabric has been around for a long time, from Rembrandt’s canvases to the sails in Columbus’s caravels. Now, the textile industry is strongly experiencing hemp’s disruption, especially as a replacement for cotton.
The material can be processed to be lightweight, soft, breathable, and durable, replacing most cotton applications in the textile industry. Considering that cotton represents 43% of all fibers used for clothing and textiles worldwide, hemp has huge possibilities ahead.
For instance, iconic jeans company Levi’s recently announced a pilot project to replace 27% of its denim’s cotton with hemp, as part of an overall sustainability push. Why? Cotton requires much more water, pesticides, and soil to be grown than hemp.