Hemp can play a key role for the textile sector in terms of sustainability. The textile industry is currently exploring new materials and working methods in order to move towards a more responsible production model. To this end, the industry is focusing on the production and processing of naturally occurring fibers from renewable sources. Materials such as hemp had already been used by our ancestors for clothing. Christopher Columbus himself and his crew on the expedition to India wore clothing made from hemp fibers.
The hemp-driven domino effect
The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) is currently spearheading such textile projects based on hemp fibers.
The textile sector is the fourth largest consumer of raw materials and water, ahead of only the food, construction and transport sectors.
By 2021, among the main objectives of any economic model should be the reduction of carbon footprint and low environmental impact in the production and processing of raw materials. That is why the EU intends to boost the market for sustainable textiles with an eco-friendly design. The use of hemp promotes the use of local raw materials and reduces the use of chemicals in its production.
Positive value chain
The European textile industry has experienced a period of difficult progress in its small and medium-sized industries due to the production and processing of raw materials on other continents. Currently the EU is still regaining pieces of its sovereignty in the industry. However, 60% of production, in terms of value, still originates outside the continent.
Recovering the European textile sector would have a positive ripple effect in terms of boosting the value chain and creating local jobs. Boosting the European textile sector would mean boosting the development of new hemp varieties for fiber production, thus increasing productivity and raw material efficiency as well as fabric quality. In addition to strengthening other hemp products.
Some of the EIHA recommendations:
- Study and recognize the potential of the hemp plant as a fixer of atmospheric CO2 to the soil.
- Publicize the incredible attributes of the plant in terms of soil regeneration and contribution to biodiversity.
- Recognize the value of natural fiber in the market and consider it as an alternative to the current unsustainable model.
- To achieve models close to zero waste, the recyclability and compostability of final products must be considered.
- Research and apply the best possible technologies to provide innovation and tools that allow the development of sustainable models.
- Reduce polluting products from agriculture to the end of the process of processed products. Taking into account the environmental impact of microplastics where a revision of the regulation of used products is needed to avoid their release and a clear regulation with imminent deadlines and terms.
- Regulating traceability with new technologies with certification systems that add value to certain environmentally responsible products.
- Realization of established European standards and discontinue private certifications in the textile industry.
- Establish contact with stakeholders in the participation of the value chain where points of interest are established and concerns are exposed on equal terms and design favorable policies for the sectors involved in the production without neglecting the sustainability of processed products.