That news gets picked up by relevant publications and I receive information of another industry getting all excited. The article ‘Hemp to the Rescue’ below is by David Taylor.
Hemp to the rescue!
Could the cannabis plant show us the way to a more sustainable, low-carbon construction industry? David Taylor spoke to someone who thinks it can
Mention ‘cannabis’ and what springs to mind? Whatever it is, it probably isn’t thermal insulation, composite building panels or biodegradable plastic.
But a relaxation in the laws governing the cultivation of cannabis in recent years has opened up opportunities to exploit the many useful properties of the plant – including its potential for producing low-carbon, renewable building materials.
Call cannabis by another name – ‘hemp’ – and the associations are very different. hemp was once an important crop and widely cultivated in the UK. Before the invention of synthetic fibres, it was hemp from which rope was made – without it, Britannia would never have ruled the waves.
Hemp was also an important fibre for weaving and paper-making. The best quality paper (including banknotes, though obviously not the new polymer ones) is still made from hemp.
As with all crops, there are many different strains of cannabis sativa, and only relatively few contain significant amounts of the psychoactive drug tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Instead, most varieties have been bred to yield long fibre-rich stems & seeds for health products rather than the potent resin-impregnated flower buds known as marijuana.
Recognition of this, and of the plant’s beneficial uses, resulted in restrictions on the cultivation of hemp in the UK being relaxed in 1993. The plant is now grown by farmers all over the country, although its cultivation requires a Home Office licence and is still rigorously controlled.
But after decades of neglect, the market for hemp fibre has largely dried up and commercial applications for the raw material have taken a long time to catch on.
One company that is determined to kick-start the use of hemp in as many applications as possible is Unyte hemp, whose mission is to “enable the entire UK industrial hemp supply chain and…become the number one