The Hemp fiber industry continues to grow at an incredible rate. In fact, the fiber is one of the primary sources of fiber for large-scale manufacturing. This is because hemp fiber is both biodegradable and eco-friendly – its also more durable and versatile than ordinary fiber. This, coupled with the steep decline in industrial hemp prices, has made hemp fiber a strong option for companies using fiber as a raw material. However, the lack of a domestic supply chain for hemp fiber have experts warning that hemp growers may suffer from oversupplying a yet-to-be-established industry. Thanks to companies like Patagonia, help is now on the horizon. But how is Patagonia creating a domestic supply chain for hemp fiber?
California-based outdoor apparel company Patagonia and the state of Colorado are helping to create a domestic hemp fiber supply chain by bringing together farmers, machinery manufacturers, textile producers and hemp researchers.
Patagonia has launched the ‘Bring Hemp Home’ project to help create a local supply chain for hemp fiber in the United States. In fact, Patagonia has been using hemp in its workwear products for a long time now. This hemp fiber is sourced from a China-based hemp producer known as Hemp Fortex, which makes environmentally sustainable fibers.
The state of Colorado strongly supports this initiative. “There’s nothing about political parties in hemp. It’s just a solid business opportunity, a solid environmental opportunity, good for farmers, good for our health, good for the economy, good for sustainability,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in a video Patagonia released about the “Bring Hemp Home” project earlier this year.
How is Patagonia is Creating a Domestic Supply Chain for Hemp Fiber?
The “Bring Hemp Home” project results from Patagonia’s many years of creative thinking on how to create a hemp supply chain in the United States sustainably. The project is a collaborative effort between all the would-be stakeholders in the supply chain like the farmers, the processing plants and local governments to put in place the necessary infrastructure and tools to create a sustainable local economy for industrial hemp.
Some of the goals of the Bring Hemp Home project include;
- Elevate and raise awareness around industrial hemp.
- Increase the amount of hemp being grown in the United States.
- Help develop hemp-processing infrastructure.
As part of this, hemp researchers, farmers and processors are all working together to develop specifications for producing the best-quality hemp for fiber and processing it into the raw material that textile manufacturers need to create material.
On one hand, Patagonia provides the coalition with an experienced buyer of industrial hemp with has specific needs. Having a potential buyer in the coalition can help it calibrate the supply chain with input from an actual potential client. Information like what hemp to produce, how long to leave it in the ground, and what seeds to plant can only come from a genuine potential buyer. This was echoed by Alexandra La Pierre, a material developer for Patagonia.
“We’re getting calls every day from farmers who have been growing the hemp, (asking) ‘Can Patagonia buy my hemp fiber and put it in their clothes?’ I want to tell them I can buy their fiber. But there are so few resources out there to direct them to: What is the correct way to grow? How should they plant? How long should it be in the ground? What is the type of seed to use?”
On the other hand, she was also inundated by many reaching out to ask about how much hemp fiber Patagonia was using and what they were paying for it. So, in the end, the idea of a coalition project between all stakeholders seemed like the most organic way forward.
“We (said), ‘All right, we need to connect these pieces, and we need to have everyone sit down together in a room and talk to each other – not just through Patagonia,” said Alexandra.
“It was like a collaborative melding of the minds … bringing each piece of processing in there.”
As exciting as this is for everyone involved in the hemp fiber industry, we will have to wait a while before we can see the real impact of the ‘Bring Hemp Home’ project. Although we’re still in the early days, the future looks bright for the hemp industry. Especially when companies like Patagonia are helping to create such an exciting domestic supply chain.
How is Patagonia Creating a Domestic Supply Chain for Hemp Fiber?
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