Hemp grows up

A UK producer of industrial hemp has just received a cash injection of over £2.5 million pounds. Hemcore Ltd grows and processes industrial hemp in the UK.

The financing was led by Low Carbon Accelerator (LCA), which has claimed a 30% stake in the company, said to be the largest UK industrial hemp producer.

Hemcore grows and produces around 1,000 hectares farmed under contract and grown under government licence. The company says that it is reviving a practice once widely used across the UK to produce fibre for sails and rigging.

Now, Hemcore produces low carbon raw materials for a wide range of industries that include selling the fibre into the European automotive industry for use in internal panels to replace glass and synthetic fibres, while the shiv, the woody part of the hemp plant, is sold as horse-bedding.

Andrew Newman, CFO of Low Carbon Initiative Limited, LCA's investment manager, said: "As an investor in low-carbon buildings, we feel it is essential to look at the whole supply chain of construction materials, not just the finished building. Hemcore says that low-impact, low-input agriculture can provide these materials."

The investment from LCA and other investors will be used to expand Hemcore's operations and range of products, with capacity to grow into new outside markets.

Hemp absorbs a significant amount of CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows which is then locked up in the structure for the life of the building, resulting in these having far lower carbon footprints than buildings that are constructed using conventional techniques, says the LCA.

Hemcore estimates that approximately 30 to 45 tonnes of carbon dioxide could be saved in the walls of a typical family house if 'Hemcrete' is used in place of conventional materials.

Earlier this month, a deal was announced between Hemcore, Defra and Ford to make more sustainable cars. Hemcore is to build various components of cars using hemp, replacing metals and oil-based plastics.

Dana Gornitzki



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