On 9 and 10 November, the Alliance for European Flax-Linen & Hemp held its European Forum 2023 in Versailles. As part of the event, a round table on textile hemp put into perspective the opportunities offered by textile hemp in Europe, through the Hemp4Circularity Interreg project.
Hemp4Circularity, an innovative project for textile hemp
Hemp4Circularity is an Interreg NWE project that aims to use long hemp fibre, an innovative, local and biosourced ecological fibre, in the textile value chain of North-West Europe, from growers to weavers and knitters, from the field to the dressing room.
Hemp is a plant with multiple outlets. The aim of the project is to support the circular economy using a method of growing hemp similar to flax. The project encompasses all the stages in the hemp processing chain and the know-how of growers, scutchers, hacklers, spinners, weavers, knitters and designers. The first trials in March 2023 collected essential data on various parameters, including plant density after sowing and at harvest time.
H4C is part of a collective action coordinated by Valbiom - in partnership with Alliance for European Flax-linen & Hemp (France), LCBio (France), Safilin (France), Hogent (Belgium), Hyler (Belgium), Inagro (Belgium), Libeco (Belgium), Delphy (Netherlands), Van de Bilt (Netherlands) and Natuvalis (Germany). The consortium has a total of 11 partners, mainly companies, research centres, universities and business support organisations in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
A round table on textile hemp
Raymond Libeert, from the flax weaving company Libeco, moderated the round table, as a pioneer in the textile hemp emerging sector. Alongside him, three key witnesses took part in the discussions:
- Valentine Donck from Valbiom, leader of the Hemp4Circularity project ;
- Nathalie Revol from Lin et Chanvre Bio (LCBio), a pioneering association working on the cultivation and scutching of long-fibre textile hemp ;
- Benoit Savourat from La Chanvrière, an agricultural cooperative active in the development of retted technical fibres for cotton production, and an initiator in the development of long fibres.
The Alliance for European Flax-Linen & Hemp, represented by Julie Pariset and Chantal Malingrey, provided answers and insights to the questions and challenges raised by the collective discussions.
Hemp textile: what are the stakes?
The Hemp4circularity project addresses the growing demand from the textile industry for local and sustainable materials. The industry itself is responding to the rising consumer demand for natural fibres and local, sustainable textile materials. Textile hemp is presented as a fibre both similar and complementary to flax, in order to broaden the possibilities of this sector.
However, empowering this emerging industry is not without challenges. If the goal is to develop a new profitable crop for farmers, it requires method, time, scientific data and evidence.
Another challenge is to define a European strategy with a shared vision for the textile markets and their specific features. Through H4C, the stakeholders are asserting their distinctive European values and meeting the expectations of downstream manufacturers and brands.
Finally, for the sector, the objective is to demonstrate that a European hemp textile industry is taking shape, bringing together organisations and companies committed to working together, proactively and in an “open source” approach.
Between challenges and opportunities, the Hemp4Circularity project aims to bring stakeholders together and move forward a circular textile industry, through hemp textiles.