Ask Our Experts: What Role Can Hemp Play in Decarbonizing the Economy?
Q: How does industrial hemp actually improve the air?
By Trevor Yahn-Grode, Data Analyst, New Frontier Data
A: One of industrial hemp’s biggest selling points is its potential to help lower global CO2 emissions by replacing traditional petroleum-based products.
The carbon cycle – the process by which carbon flows through the environment – is a normally closed cycle, meaning that just as much CO2 is absorbed as is emitted. However, human activities – most egregiously the burning of fossil fuels – add extra CO2, meaning more CO2 is emitted than can be absorbed. The goal is to get back to a closed cycle by creating a carbon-neutral economy through finding ways to reduce or offset emissions. That is where hemp products come in.
As hemp plants go through their growth cycles, they absorb CO2 through photosynthesis. Products made from hemp fiber take that CO2 and trap it into the very structure of whatever is being manufactured. Even if the process does not result in net-zero carbon emissions, it is still a significant reduction compared to manufacturing the same product from petroleum. In construction and household energy usage, plastics and composites manufacturing, and the textiles industry, industrial (fiber) hemp products show great potential in reducing or eliminating emissions.