With more and more people understanding its potential benefits, CBD sales are flourishing. But as the industry grows, it’s important to consider the impact on our planet. Can the way we farm hemp help reduce emissions? Which CBD extraction methods are most sustainable?
Through agrochemicals, erosion, and water waste, the agricultural industry isn’t the planet’s best friend. It contributes to around 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news?
As crops go, hemp has some impressive eco-credentials. It’s really resistant to diseases and insects, so you need less (or no) pesticides to get rich pickings. Hemp prevents most weeds from growing, meaning less herbicides. Using up to 50% less water than cotton, it is also a hardy plant that grows pretty much anywhere.
The different parts of the hemp plant can be used to make other items like paper and clothing (less wastage). While the long, deep roots help stabilise the soil, preventing erosion and retaining nutrients. They even remove some toxins.
What’s more, hemp also has a positive impact on air quality. Every hectare of hemp can absorb up to 15 tonnes of CO2. According to this EU report, “Hemp’s rapid growth makes it one of the fastest CO2-to-biomass conversion tools available, more efficient than agro-forestry.” Its negative global warming potential (GWP) means that it actively reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Basically, your hemp plants will do a lot of the hard sustainability graft for you!
If you want to go further, natural and organic farming techniques – including no chemical pesticides and crop rotation – will help you preserve the ecological balance in your fields. Getting officially certified as organic can be challenging but goes a long way to reassuring your customers about the quality of your CBD and showing that your commitment to the environment is sincere.
There are many ways to harness the power of the hemp plant to obtain high-quality CBD. You can use CO2, solvents and natural solvents, steam or cold pressure to extract cannabidiol from the plant.
CO2? Yes, that’s right. Although we often associate CO2 with negative environmental impacts, it’s actually a planet-friendly option. The CO2 extraction process is safe and doesn’t leave behind any toxic residues, like the solvent method might. Plus, the CO2 is condensed and turned back into the liquid to be used again, eliminating almost all emissions. Although it requires specific equipment and expertise, the investment may well be worthwhile if you’re determined to create more sustainable CBD products.
Cold press extraction – whereby the hemp plant matter is cooled and crushed under pressure – is also environmentally friendly. However, as the yield is rather small, it isn’t (yet) viable on a large scale.
Now you’re ready to craft your CBD products. Whether you’re selling CBD oils, gummies or topicals, there are lots of way to keep your distribution as green as possible.
First stop? The packaging. Think about how you can add in more recyclable or reusable materials. Why not swap plastic for glass? Or choose recycled paper rather than plastic wrapping? Although most plastics are cheap and readily available, they have a very big downside. Between 1950 and 2015, we produced 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic — more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today. And a whole lot of litter in our soils and pollution in our oceans.
If you have a bricks-and-mortar shop, trying using QR codes instead of printing brochures, or encourage customers to bring back and reuse their containers.
When it comes to shipping, pick a logistics partner just as committed to reducing its impact as you (electric vehicles, local delivery etc.) Or you could follow in the footsteps of companies like HEXO Corp by offsetting your carbon emissions – for example, planting trees in partnership with NGOs.
More and more CBD companies are moving towards organic farming and environmentally friendly practises like CO2 extraction. With good reason. This kind of approach carves a more sustainable future for our planet. And your CBD brand. Consumers have come to expect brands to care about their impact and want to know that you’re doing your bit. By progressively making changes, one step at a time, you can align your brand with your values, while also respecting your budget.