Getting back to the environmental (and otherwise) beneficial aspects of the Hemp plant, we’re taking a look at Hemp wood. Aside from the obvious issue of deforestation, a Hemp wood-alternative also has a number of other benefits.
What is Hemp Wood?
Despite evidence of the use of Hemp for wood-like material and functions in the past, large-scale production is a fairly new operation. Hemp wood is made using the fibres of the Hemp plant, which are separated from the rest of the plant material. The Hemp fibre is then pressed, using adhesive, into blocks and planks.
Hemp wood can be used for all the same purposes as traditional woods, from construction to furniture. Currently, the largest company producing the wood-alternative is HempWood in Kentucky, USA.
The process is similar to that used for the production of bamboo wood-alternatives – another environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional wood products.
Effects of the Traditional Wood Industry
Wood from trees has been used for construction materials and many other things since pre-historic times. However, as the population has increased dramatically, so too has the demand and depletion of this commodity.
Unsurprisingly, the most detrimental effects of the industry are the vast amounts of deforestation. The majority of these deforestation operations take place in large forests and rainforests, where the trees are cleared in order to be used in various industries. It is estimated that one and a half acres of rainforest are cut down every second.
Not only does this deplete the number of trees in the world – along with an effective carbon consumer – but it also has a detrimental effect on the wildlife who live there.
Benefits of Hemp Wood
Hemp wood is thought to be the most environmentally-friendly lumber product in the world. Preservation of forests and the wildlife within them is the most obvious and important benefit of utilising a wood-alternative. But, in addition, Hemp has the benefit of growing over 100 times faster than traditional word materials.
For example, oak trees – one of the most popular choices for furniture – can take up to 200 years to reach full maturity. In comparison, Hemp fully matures within six months. This creates a larger, and more quickly replenishing, supply of wood materials.
But the benefits of Hemp wood don’t end there. It is also much stronger than oak, with HempWood claiming that their products are 20% more dense. The material can be used to make anything that wood can make.
A Growing Industry?
When compared to many of the other uses of Hemp, this is an area that seems possibly the most likely to take off on a large scale. In the US, HempWood has opened a full-scale plant for production and hopes to open seven more across the country in the future.
This growth is thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. The new federal law, passed last year, officially removed Hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. This means that the plant is now treated like any other commercial crop. Hemp farms have since popped up all over the country.
Although much of these farms are harvesting their crops for CBD extraction, the fibrous by-product is perfect for the Hemp wood industry.