Ecological benefits and sustainability
The use of natural fibers in the textile industry is becoming increasingly important as companies and consumers look for environmentally friendly alternatives. Among the various natural fibers, hemp impresses with its outstanding ecological and technical advantages.
Let's take a look at the ecological and technical benefits of hemp fibers compared to other natural fibers and which products Norafin has already developed:
Ecological footprint of hemp
Hemp is characterized by its low ecological footprint. Compared to traditional fibers like cotton, the hemp plant requires less water, pesticides and herbicides to grow. Hemp plants grow quickly and densely, which suppresses weed growth and reduces the need for chemical pesticides. In addition, hemp contributes to soil improvement as the plant returns nutrients to the soil and prevents erosion. This makes hemp a very environmentally friendly raw material for textile production.
Hemp is divided into the so-called industrial hemp and medical hemp.
Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) for the textile industry forms a high growth height and robust fibers. The plants are often densely planted to promote long stems and strong fibers. Medical hemp, on the other hand, is usually grown bushier to maximize flower production, which is rich in cannabinoids. The key difference between industrial hemp and medical hemp is the content of the cannabinoids CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Industrial hemp has a low THC content, often below 0.3%. In contrast, medical hemp is designed to have a higher CBD concentration and may contain various amounts of THC, depending on the variety.
In Germany and many European countries, the cultivation of industrial hemp for the textile industry is legally permitted as long as the THC content is below the legal limit of 0.2% to 0.3%. Medical hemp is subject to stricter controls and is usually only approved for research and medical purposes. Laws may vary depending on the country.
Technische Vliesstoffe aus Hanf sind aufgrund ihrer natürlichen Faserstruktur äußerst widerstandsfähig und abriebfest. Hanffasern sind von Natur aus robust und besitzen eine hohe Reißfestigkeit, wodurch sie sich hervorragend für Anwendungen eignen, die strapazierfähige Materialien erfordern. Die abrasiven Eigenschaften von Hanf machen ihn ideal für Produkte wie Polier- und Schleifmittel sowie für Industrieanwendungen, bei denen eine hohe Beständigkeit gegenüber Verschleiß und Abrieb gefragt ist. Aber auch im Kosmetikbereich und im Bau wird die Nachfrage nach Hanfmaterialien immer höher – Abrasion und Reißfestigkeit sind neben der Nachhaltigkeit auch hier Kriterien, die Nutzer überzeugen.
The sustainability of hemp fibers encompasses the entire life cycle of the plant. Hemp cultivation requires fewer resources and leaves a smaller CO2 footprint compared to other fiber crops. In addition, hemp fibers are biodegradable, which helps to reduce the impact on landfills. Another aspect of hemp's sustainability is its versatility: not only the fibers, but also the seeds and leaves can be used for various products such as food, cosmetics and bio-plastics.
Overall, technical nonwovens made from hemp offer a promising alternative in the textile industry. The environmental benefits, low abrasiveness and sustainable properties make hemp fibers an attractive option for environmentally conscious consumers and businesses. The use of hemp can help to reduce the environmental footprint of the textile industry while providing durable and long-lasting materials.
The trend towards naturally grown products that have a significant positive effect on the CO2 footprint has motivated Norafin to look further into natural fibers, in addition to its years of experience in the production and development of numerous products made from flax fibers.
As a first concrete step, a larger quantity of hemp fibers was processed on our waterjet lines for the first time in March 2020. In combination with the specialized Lyocell fiber, a smooth 50 g/m² hemp/lyocell nonwoven was produced, which is used for face mask applications. The following year, it was even possible to produce a first large quantity of a 100% hemp nonwoven in Mildenau. In 2022, Norafin then explored further extremes, entering the hygiene sector with a 30 g/m² water-jet nonwoven and a 250 g/m² needlepunch nonwoven.
In the meantime, hemp is just as much an established part of our natural fiber campaigns as our flax nonwovens. We were able to achieve first success in the market in combination with various finishing options in the feminine hygiene sector, in interior construction, in the production of sports equipment and in the cleaning sector.
We would be pleased to present our hemp product portfolio more precisely to you.
Feel free to contact us.