Ask Our Experts 11/24/19: Expansive Applications for Hemp Manufacturing
Q: With the holidays fast approaching, gift catalogs are already here: Is hemp just a fad, or a viable organic alternative for other materials like plastic, wood, and fabrics?
By New Frontier Data
A: Earlier this month, the Home Textiles Today Material Changes Conference in New York focused on significant applications for CBD and hemp in the home good and textiles markets. Featuring some of the global leaders in textiles manufacturing, it highlighted numerous opportunities to integrate hemp into their product portfolios.
Hemp’s potential for cultivation and innovation has been catalyzed through passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. With federal legalization for the first time since World War II, the amount of cultivated hemp acreage in the U.S. grew exponentially (nearly fivefold from 2018 to 2019), to an estimated 453,000 acres.
The intense interest in hemp is fueled, in part, by the versatile plant’s diverse applications: Hemp can be processed for CBD, but also used in manufacturing for applications ranging from consumer textiles, bioplastics, bedding materials, and packaging. While the infrastructure and innovation needed to fully realize the plant’s potential remains in its infancy, the conference offered some insights about where things are heading.
CBD linens and clothing: Workout gear infused with CBD is reputed to reduce soreness and expediate muscle recovery. Likewise, infused fitted sheets assert improved quality of sleep. While such products show how flexible hemp’s byproducts can be when coupled with modern technology, challenges remain. Crafting a product which allows for uniform intake and targeted delivery (while simultaneously reducing erosion of that infused material) is a considerable undertaking. For now, CBD-infused fabrics’ potential benefits are reduced with each subsequent cleaning, and it is not cost-effective to re-infuse the product. Further, product designers still aim to minimize waste of CBD in areas of the linens and textiles which do not come in direct contact with the consumer, (e.g., the edges of fitted sheets).
Packaging materials: A convergence of global forces has led to intensified focus on consumer packaging, especially through online shopping, fueling demand for packaging appropriate for small-scale, direct-to-consumer shipping and sustainable packaging solutions. As consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies look for sustainable (and cost-effective) alternatives, hemp-based products show strong promise beyond the options from wood, fossil fuel, metal, and glass.
Outdoor furniture: Traditional methods of processing hemp for use in the consumer textile industry produce a rough fiber, which is well-suited to outdoor furniture, and when blended with currently used fibers, can create new textiles with textures.