23 January 2023

Outside The Box: Hemp Packaging

worldwide production

The materials that are available now are varied and gaining in popularity as the sustainable packaging sector gradually grows. One of these materials is hemp – a material which is considered one of the strongest in the bast natural fibers family; as well as a potential climate savior with its carbon neutral credentials. 


So why is hemp so great for packaging? 

Well hemp paper can be recycled 8 times compared to paper made from wood pulp, which can only be recycled 3 times. For centuries hemp was used for clothing, sails, ropes, even as an alternative to steel, it is biodegradable, a great insulator, and has the ability to help your business move towards carbon neutral accreditation. 


Why is hemp better as a sustainable alternative to plastic and paper? 

As a crop hemp is more environmentally friendly, it prevents soil erosion, can be rotated on the same land without losing quality, it can even reduce water pollution. The paper industry accounts for 13% – 15% of overall wood consumption and is responsible for 30% – 40% of all industrial wood traded internationally. As for plastic, 335 million metric tons are produced each year, for more information on plastic as a material check out this article on the BPAK blog ‘Green Or Mean: Can The Packaging Industry Be Sustainable‘. 

A recent study by a member of the University of Cambridge found that hemp crops are twice as effective at capturing carbon, while also producing carbon negative biomaterials. Industrial hemp absorbs between 8 to 15 tonnes of CO2 per hectare (3 to 6 tonnes per acre). While forests capture 2 to 6 tonnes of carbon per hectare (0.8 to 2.4 tonnes per acre) and even that is dependent on factors such as species and age.


Due to the agricultural legislation passed in 2018 in America, hemp can now be grown commercially and used industrially. Internationally the countries who produce the most hemp are: China, Canada, US, France and Chile. In 2019, the global market was $4.71 billion, this is forecasted to increase by 2025 to $26.6 billion with a CAGR of 34% which is incredibly good for the sector and speaks volumes about the way which various industries are going.


China produces about 70% of the world’s hemp crops, thanks to traditional growing dating back to the 11th century as well as large amounts of land with the perfect conditions in the two provinces where hemp is allowed to be grown. Other countries have had to battle with legalization and then a very competitive market, but countries such as Canada are progressive enough to get an edge on the market and use this to their advantage building their own strains and creating various avenues within the sector.


If you want to find out more about the range of materials available as sustainable alternatives on the market, check out the BPAK blog for weekly updates on sector innovations and information. Want to start your packaging journey today? Get in touch with the BPAK team to turn your concept into a reality.