Among circular economy projects to recently score cash from Canada’s Government of Alberta is one relating to advanced bio-composite materials made with hemp.
“Circular economy” is a concept whereby markets give incentives for reusing products, rather than disposing of them and then extracting new resources to create more of the same.
The Government of Alberta is seeking to advance the province’s circular economy by committing CAD $58 million through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) to support various related projects. All funding is sourced from the province’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund.
“A more sustainable, diversified provincial economy requires using our resources more wisely, we need to think about waste as a resource rather than a cost,” said Justin Riemer, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta. “This investment in converting waste into other uses is going to make a real difference.”
Among the winning projects, $10 million was awarded to INCA Renewtech to construct and operate what’s been called a “first-of-kind” commercial facility manufacturing a sustainable, advanced bio-composite material made from hemp stalk.
Manufacturing bio-composite materials isn’t something new for the company – INCA’s innovation team has been at it for decades.
“Today we are using strong hemp fibre to design car interiors, RV sidewalls and boat cores that will be lighter, cost competitive and recyclable,” states the company. “That means better fuel and EV battery efficiency.”
In total, the new project is worth $174.5 million, so the $10 million from the Government of Alberta will be a big help.
“This funding will enable INCA Renewtech to significantly accelerate construction of our state-of-the-art hemp processing and composites manufacturing factory,” said the company’s Chairman & CEO, David Saltman. “We will purchase waste straw from farmers currently growing hemp for plant-based protein and transform this renewable resource into advanced bio-composites for the automotive, marine, wind energy, and consumer plastics industries.”
Trivia: The Ford motor company tinkered with using hemp in composite plastics way back in 1941 – but didn’t follow through. More than 80 years on, and a number of auto manufacturers are investigating or using hemp in various components.