The amazing history of the hemp plant
The hemp plant is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. The legendary plant was used thousands of years ago as a useful and medicinal plant in a wide variety of cultures.
The fibers of the hemp are considered to be extremely robust and hard-wearing. Subsequently, they were used early on for the production of ropes, sail cloths, and textiles. The seeds, flowers, and leaves of the plant can also be used for the production of CBD oil and medicinal products.
However, the history of the healing ornamental plant also has its downsides. Over time, the cultivation and use of hemp have been banned several times. In addition, the spread of the hemp plant was strongly suppressed by industrialization. So, the plant has only experienced a revival since the mid-1990s.
The hemp plant has a history of more than 10,000 years. Its origins can be found in Central Asia, with the first verifiable records of the use of the plant being around 5,500 years old.
Hemp is also suitable for making paper
In historical Chinese medicine books, there are indications that the plant was used in the fight against rheumatism, malaria, infections, burns and gout. In addition, the leaves of the hemp were used early on for calming and pain relief. In addition to medical fields of application, the useful plant was also used in other areas.
The hemp plant was used as a raw material for textiles, paper, nets and ropes. The popular plant finally reached Africa and Europe via the Middle East via trade routes. The herbaceous plant has been used and grown in Europe for around 2,500 years, with even the Gutenberg Bible being printed on hemp paper.
Until industrialization, the hemp plant was considered a raw material that was widespread worldwide. Besides, it was used in particular in shipbuilding and in paper and textile production.
Hemp has a wide range of uses
With the advent of industrialization, however, the useful plant increasingly lost its importance. In the textile industry, synthetic fibers or cotton were used more and more, and wood replaced the raw material that was once popular in paper production. The hemp plant remained a popular luxury food until the beginning of the 20th century. It was mainly consumed for regeneration and relaxation.
However, various campaigns, such as the anti-cannabis campaign by Harry J. Anslinger in the 1930s. This campaign resulted in increased bans, so that cannabis was banned almost worldwide from the middle of the 20th century.
Since the 1990s, the cultivation of the hemp plant has picked up speed again worldwide. In the US, this was particularly influenced by legislation, which allows the legal cultivation of industrial hemp again under certain conditions.
Thanks to this change in the law, the crop is now used in a wide variety of areas. For example, the seeds are used to produce oil, and the remains of the seeds are also used as animal feed in animal husbandry.
Because of their pest resistance and longevity, hemp fibers are often used as insulation in the construction industry or as a raw material for textiles and paper. In addition, valuable essential hemp oils can be obtained from the flowers and leaves of the plant. In turn, they are used as an odor in detergents or as a flavor in food. In the health sector, hemp is often used in teas, ointments, and oils, whereby the active ingredient cannabidiol (CBD) stands out.
Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which is said to have a positive effect on a number of diseases. The active ingredient is said to improve heart health and alleviate anxiety and depression.
In addition, CBD is said to have a relaxing, antispasmodic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effect. Due to its possible diverse mechanisms of action, CBD is also used by users for skin problems, nausea, and different types of asthma.
Cannabidiol is not only supposed to have positive effects on human health, but it is also being used successfully as a dietary supplement in veterinary medicine.
HEMP AS a SOLUTION TO OUR PLASTIC PROBLEM
Humanity is addicted to plastic: whether as a packaging material or a basic material in everyday objects, plastic has become indispensable. The world’s plastic problem is getting worse. In the US, for example, only 5% of the plastic used is recycled. The remaining 95% ends up as waste in the disposable system and ends up in a landfill or, in the worst case, in the ocean.
Forecasts indicate that by 2050 more plastic will swim in our oceans than fish.
Of course, something should change NOW about this catastrophic situation! Attempts to reduce plastic waste are already underway. However, these recycling programs can only reduce the plastic problem to a small extent. Much more important is a redesign of plastic production and the use of more environmentally friendly raw materials.
HEMP AS AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE
Hemp could be one of those environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic production and satisfy the need for change. Hemp fibers, hemp oil, lignin, and hemp shives are on the one hand particularly versatile and on the other hand cheap and profitable to produce. These incredible raw materials can be used to create various products. These include biopolymers, bioplastics, and biocomposites.
In the last few decades, the cultivation of hemp has been illegal, which made the production of alternative raw materials almost impossible. With the current legalization of hemp cultivation, new economic opportunities could arise for the diverse range of industrial hemp. However, the positive development of environmental pollution comes first. Until then, however, we need full legalization of hemp cultivation and government support.
POSSIBLE USE OF HEMP FIBER PLASTICS
Hemp fiber plastics could even replace petroleum-based plastics in the future. There are already signs that large companies are aiming for a complete switch to hemp fiber plastics. Hemp fiber plastic is not only more robust but also free of harmful substances and a lot lighter than previous plastics.
The car manufacturers Mercedes Benz and BMW are already using hemp raw materials for the production of bioplastics. Especially, in the area of interiors and door panel insulation.
Manufacturers can also meet current consumer design requirements with bioplastics. In addition to the auto industry, other companies are already using hemp raw materials. There are now many interesting start-ups that seize the opportunity and make a profit with a positive change in environmental protection. These companies are on the rise, especially in North America.
YOUNG COMPANIES ON THE ADVANCE
C2renew is a young company based in Fargo (North Dakota) and specializes in the production of organic compost materials. With stable prices, these represent an environmentally friendly alternative. C2renew thus occupies a niche in the field of industrial composite materials and already has a permanent place in the supply chain of large companies.
In the meantime, customers are also attaching importance to sustainability and are attaching increasing importance to ecological added value. Even other start-ups, for example, Earthkind or 3DFUEL, are now working with c2renew and producing sustainable and high-performance products.
WHAT’S THE FUTURE LIKE?
Hemp raw materials should not only be used for plastic production in the future, but also for the manufacture of other materials. For example, they are currently being used to manufacture alternative carbon nanotubes from graphene, the HempPhene.
This HempPhene can be up to 1,000 times lighter and 100 times stronger than steel. Another special feature: HempPhene only costs part of the production costs of graphene, as the hemp plant does most of the work. So it is quite possible that at some point we will come across houses, bridges, or other things whose building materials consist of hemp raw materials.
Of course, it’s nice to imagine a future where plastic is no longer a problem. In order to create this reality, we as consumers also have to do something about it! Hemp-based bioplastics should be demanded, expected, and supported by consumers. Because there are always opportunities to shift industry and business in the right direction and to protect the environment in the future instead of destroying it.