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How the carbon capture of hemp can help reduce emissions

Canxchange explores how hemp could solve the carbon emissions crisis.

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Carbon emissions reached an all-time high just before the Covid-19 lockdowns started. The hemp industry has fostered a young culture of carbon awareness. Here are some of the developments.

How the Carbon Capture of Hemp Can Help Reduce Emissions – Live on the Canxchange website.

Carbon emissions reached all-time highs before the COVID-19 pandemic. With such unprecedented rates of emission, we are constantly measuring how to reduce our output.

Around the world, governments incentivise manufacturing businesses to reduce carbon emissions in newer products. Cars, for example, are increasingly regulated. But other businesses exist on the other end of the spectrum—such as the hemp industry. Hemp cultivation produces net negative carbon emissions. That means that the hemp industry actively contributes to the solution to carbon emissions.

So, exactly how much carbon does hemp capture? What about the other carbon-capturing practices and businesses? 

Environmental impact: hemp vs. other ways of capturing CO2

Many studies already exist on the carbon capture of hemp. They differ in their conclusions, but not by a significant margin.

According to the European Industrial Hemp Association, one hectare of industrial hemp absorbs up to 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Another study by Hemp Tech Global found that one acre of industrial hemp absorbs 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide in just 3 to 4 months of growth.

These levels of carbon capture are significant. When compared to other crops, and plants overall, hemp has exceptional carbon absorption. However, it’s not normally the first plant that comes to mind when you talk about carbon reduction.

Most people think of trees as the first line of defence against excessive carbon emissions. Indeed, trees are undisputedly the most abundant, and one of the most efficient, tools that we have. However, as an active measure, we simply cannot rely on them alone. Unfortunately, that is even more true given the fact that we are still in the midst of a deforestation crisis. In the past 50 years alone, we’ve deforested 17% of the Amazon rainforest.

Hemp vs. trees

While the comparison might sound silly at first, hemp fields can actually be more effective than forests at capturing carbon.

According to Cambridge University research, planting hemp is more effective than planting trees. Whereas forests capture between 2 and 6 tonnes per hectare per year, hemp captures 8 to 15.

Carbon emission reduction after cultivation

In addition to carbon absorption, hemp contributes to fighting carbon emissions after its cultivation.

Hemp is one of the best converters of carbon dioxide to biomass. That’s because it can be used for carbon-negative bioplastics. Hemp is a great substitute for synthetic polymers like polyethene, which are used in most manufactured plastics. Hemp-based plastics are carbon-neutral when it comes to production, and then completely biodegradable.

There are even more products that hemp can be used for at a reduced rate of carbon emissions. It can replace materials used in construction, clothing manufacturing, and ropes.

The Natural Solution

Hemp is an easy and natural solution to a lot of our current excessive carbon emissions, offering immense versatility. It’s also been used for most of human agricultural history and only stopped being used by many countries in the 20th century.

While hemp has many uses, it also provides an alternative to fossil fuels. Fossil fuels like petrol contribute enormously to the excessive carbon emissions produced during the last 50 years. Hemp biofuel, on the other hand, is less polluting and is one of the most widely available fossil fuel substitutes.

Hemp can also help reduce CO2 emissions through biosequestration, which is a process that involves slowly smouldering cultivated hemp crops. After using it to produce tar, it is returned to the soil rather than being released into the air.

Carbon credits

These hemp solutions might become more incentivised going forward. For hemp farmers, the opportunity to cash in on carbon credits is an added incentive. So far, this idea has primarily been explored by blockchain startups. But governments have also started awarding carbon credits for hemp farmers who meet their criteria.

Key tech start-ups operating in this space

Several hemp startups are taking the opportunity to capitalise on the crop’s potential.

Hempitecture

Hempitecture is a US startup for environmentally-friendly architecture. The startup addresses environmental concerns that current construction practices are aggravating. They are working to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry through environmentally friendly hemp construction products.

Hemp can be used in the production of insulators and building blocks, removing the need for polluting materials. Hempitecture produces those materials for companies in the construction industry. They use a mineral-based binder to bond the hemp core through either cast-in-place or a spray. The result is lower carbon emissions in construction.

eHempHouse

eHempHouse specialises in converting cultivated hemp into an environmentally friendly fuel. Hemp is already a carbon-negative plant. So, the process reduces CO2 emissions by both carbon capture and replacing processes that emit more carbon. In addition, the company converts hemp into products in the health, cosmetic, and textile industries.

Mirreco

Mirreco is an Australian startup that provides hemp solutions for:

  • Paper
  • Textiles
  • Construction
  • Green plastics
  • Food
  • Fuel
  • More

The startup seeks to maximise carbon capture in the industries where hemp can be applied. For example, the plastics and cosmetics industries normally require fossil fuels in their production. Then, plastics don’t easily degrade. Mirreco solves these issues with non-synthetic, hemp-based polymers.

Can hemp solve the carbon emissions crisis?

On its own, no single solution can solve such a complex problem. However, hemp is such a versatile crop that it can be applied across several industries and reduce carbon emissions in a wide variety of ways.

Hemp cultivation is now being slowly legalised around the world. It is providing use in carbon capture while replacing emission-producing materials and processes. In addition, more research is underway and many new startups are leading the way in finding new, green applications.

Medicinal

European Medicines Agency gives cannabinoid medicine positive opinion

Tetra Bio-Pharma’s has received a positive opinion from the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products on its application for Orphan Drug Designation for QIXLEEF.

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European Medicines Agency gives cannabinoid medicine positive opinion

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given a positive opinion for Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) for Tetra Bio-Pharma’s QIXLEEF.

Cannabinoid-derived drug discovery company Tetra Bio-Pharma has received a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) on its application for ODD for its investigational medicine QIXLEEF as a potential treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a chronic neuropathic pain condition.

The medicine is a botanical inhaled drug product with a fixed ratio of THC and CBD that provides fast-acting relief from pain, which the company says offers patients a viable, safer, and non-opioid option for pain management.

Tetra CEO and CRO, Dr Guy Chamberland, commented: “The positive opinion issued by the COMP is excellent news as Tetra continues to execute its regulatory strategy in Europe.  

“An ODD brings several unique advantages, from a cost reduction in drug development, to an accelerated review process and market exclusivity for 10 years. Such strategy is cost and time-effective and allows the Company to easily gain market shares in a competitive free environment. If granted, this would represent QIXLEEF’s second ODD as a potential treatment for CRPS, in addition to the ODD granted by the US FDA in March 2018. 

“We firmly believe that QIXLEEF will be a safe and effective medicine for pain management and an alternative to opioids.”

The positive opinion issued by the COMP will be sent to the European Commission, which is expected to grant the orphan designation within 30 days. 

As the medicine will be intended to treat an orphan condition, clinical studies will be preformed with a significantly smaller number of patients and could be entitled to conditional approval through a decentralised procedure resulting in a single decision from the European Commission, valid in all EU Member States, which would shorten the time to market approval. 

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Politics & policy

Cannabis regulation changes across Switzerland and Luxembourg

It is hoped that the changes will move consumers away from the black market.

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Sweeping cannabis regulation changes across Switzerland and Luxembourg

This week both Switzerland and Luxembourg have announced changes to cannabis regulation.

Both Switzerland and Luxembourg have been signaling that legislation changes surrounding cannabis would be implemented but have delayed implementation up until this week, when Switzerland announced recreational and medical cannabis will be legalised, and Luxembourg announced it would allow home cultivation.

The moves have been catalysed by the desire to protect youth and move consumers away from the black market.

Changes in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the Social Security and Public Health Commission of the Council of States (CSSS-E) has said it is lifting the ban on cannabis and reviewing regulations relating to cannabis cultivation, production, trade and consumption.

The changes were approved by nine votes to two, with the CSSS-E supporting the initiative saying that it will be “regulating the cannabis market to better protect young people and consumers”, enabling legislative work to begin to create a regulated market. It aims to stem the black market and ensure that only cannabis which has been checked for quality is available.

The CSSS-E has said it is essential that the National Council takes into account the results of the pilot projects underway on the non-medical use of cannabis, citing that “the international context must also be taken into account.”

Changes in Luxemburg 

Luxembourg announced plans to legalise recreational cannabis three years ago but has delayed on the matter. However, the country made the announcement on Friday (22 October) that citizens would be able to cultivate cannabis at home for personal use.

The deal struck in 2018 set the stage for legislation of recreational cannabis to be drawn up with the goal of impunity or legalisation regarding production in the country, as well consumption of cannabis for personal use, and for a national production and sales chain to be introduced under state control, with product quality assurance.

The deal said that the revenues from cannabis sales would be given priority into prevention, education and healthcare, and invested in the field of addiction.

The new announcement set out that citizens would be able to grow up to four plants, and that seed trade would be allowed, however, public consumption of cannabis remains illegal. 

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Markets and industry

Cannabis investment company to see UK and Europe growth

US cannabis investment company Thought Leaders has acquired UK CBD brand mellow.

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Cannabis investment company to see UK and Europe growth

US cannabis investment company Thought Leaders has acquired UK CBD brand mellow which will see the company accelerate its growth across the UK, Europe and Asia markets.

The $13.25m acquisition of mellow by Thought Leaders will also see the launch of the mellow brand into the US and will include mellow.store, the end-to-end e-commerce services Grow by mellow, along with 50 per cent of the recently announced mellow Asia.

mellow co-founders, Neil Tunbridge and James Storie-Pugh will remain at mellow as company heads looking at new investment opportunities for the group.

Pugh, commented: “We are excited to make today’s announcement and proud of our new partnership with Thought Leaders in the US. 

“It’s such an exhilarating time for CBD and these developments put mellow in the pole position to steer success for our e-tail platform and our end-to-end e-Commerce services as well as mellow Asia. As a result, mellow as a company will be at the forefront of rapid market growth globally.”

Tunbridge added: “The cannabis industry is here to stay and more and more people are starting to embrace what is likely to be the single biggest driver of the health and wellness market over the next few years. 

“The World Health Organization has recognised that CBD may have the potential to help with health issues such as sleep, insomnia to anxiety and pain.

“A paper published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, outlined the key reasons why people are turning to CBD. Anxiety, sleep problems, stress, pain and health and wellbeing came out as the most common reasons. Even the sporting world can see the advantages of CBD. The world Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances in 2017, and the Tokyo Olympics allowed athletes to use CBD during the competition. Sports stars and athletes are often drawn to CBD for anxiety, pain relief and healing.”

CEO of Thought Leaders, Mark Singleton, said: “mellow is a key component of Thought Leaders global growth strategy. It’s well curated assortment of industry leading CBD brands and products, consumer focused education and industry leading technology are an exciting addition to our portfolio. 

“The anticipated launch of the mellow US marketplace will bring a world class CBD assortment to US consumers, providing variety and quality with accelerated revenues. James and Neil’s experience and leadership in CBD and direct-to-consumer strategies are a welcome and valuable addition to the growing Thought Leaders team.”

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