When we talk about cannabis, we almost always immediately tend to think of its recreational or therapeutic uses; on occasion, we sometimes think about the use of its fibres for textiles. And it’s true that these are the best known and most widespread uses but the industrial use of cannabis goes much further, and some of the uses of this ancient and versatile plant will surprise you:
- Construction: a material which is obtained from hemp is hempcrete, a highly resistant but malleable biocomposite element with which all types of building constructions can be made. Hempcrete can be up to seven times stronger than concrete but it’s twice as light and three times more malleable, which makes it an all-purpose material that would increase the durability of buildings constructed with it tenfold. Coming from a fast-growing crop whose carbon dioxide footprint is zero, it’s also a sustainable material,
- Biofuel: an alternative to fossil fuels can be obtained from hemp. After a process of treatment and fermentation, the marijuana plant produces an alcohol called bioethanol, which minimises the impact of contamination and improves performance when mixed with fossil fuel. Plus, it releases less waste.
- Vehicles: thanks to the lightness of the materials obtained from hemp without compromising durability, they’re used in the construction of vehicles. In this way, more efficient vehicles are produced that are resistant to dents, less brittle and also biodegradable. This new type of vehicle is known as "Renew" and will be a green alternative to those made with the usual materials.
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- Hair Products: oil that is extracted from hemp is highly nutritious, easily absorbed by the hair and does not leave a greasy residue. In addition, its properties include growth acceleration and hydration. Moreover, it slows down hair loss and helps the formation of new roots. We can find these oils as ingredients in shampoos, conditioners and gels that we can easily incorporate into our beauty and hygiene routines without altering them.
- Flour: hemp flour, which is obtained from the seeds of the plant, does not contain gluten so it causes fewer food intolerances. Bleaching agents are not used in its processing and it also contains the eight essential amino acids. It also doesn’t contain unsaturated fatty acids.
- Paper: paper which contains more cellulose than conventional paper can be produced from the fibres of the marijuana plant. Furthermore, the plant grows much faster than trees (hemp stalks grow in four months while trees take between twenty and eighty years) which helps reduce deforestation. Hemp fibre paper is also much more durable. It doesn’t yellow, crack or deteriorate. Anything from sandpaper to tea bags, filters, cigarette paper, toilet paper and so on can be made with this paper.
- Plastics: hemp is a potential substitute for petrochemical plastics as it is a lightweight, durable and biodegradable material with a much lower impact on the environment. The characteristics of this plant in terms of the amount harvested per square metre, the speed of growth and its environmental sustainability make this crop one of the most efficient.
In short, the versatility of hemp and the number of products that can be obtained from it as well as its efficiency and uses make it one of the most versatile crops that we can find. The use of practically all its parts, as well as its speed of growth and even the benefits it provides to the soil where it is grown, would justify the recovery process that the industry is experiencing in this sector.