Qifan Wu | ALES Graduate Seminar

Date(s) - 26/04/2024
7:00 am - 8:00 am

A graduate exam seminar is a presentation of the student’s final research project for their degree.
This is an ALES MSc Final Exam Seminar by Qifan Wu. This seminar is open to the general public to attend.


Meeting ID: 926 4136 0483 | Passcode: 359829

Thesis Topic: Life Cycle Assessment of Industrial Hemp and Hemp-Based Products in Canada

MSc with Drs. John Wolodko and David Bressler.

Seminar Abstract:

Industrial hemp is a versatile multi-purpose crop which can be used to produce nutrient-rich hempseed and a large quantity of biomass. This biomass can be used to produce bast fibre and hurd for non-food applications such as textiles and building products while the flower heads and leaves can be used to extract bioactive ingredients such as CBD. The environmental impacts associated with hemp production have been well-studied in the European Union (EU), however, there has been limited studies from a Canadian perspective despite the fact that Canada is one of the largest hemp-producing countries in the world. This presentation highlights a comprehensive study which evaluates the environmental footprint of hemp production and select hemp products using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology.

In the first part of this study, three approaches were implemented to evaluate the carbon footprint of hemp production in Canada from cradle to farm gate: a). Data collected via farmer interviews, b). Fields data from the National Hemp Variety Field Trials (NHVFT), and c). Estimated datasets from various provincial hemp production guidelines. Overall, the median carbon footprint from the farm level analysis (Approach A) was found to be lower than the results determined from either the NHVFT data (Approach B) and provincial guidelines (Approach C). Other factors which affected both crop yield and environmental footprint included moisture (dryland versus irrigated land), fertilizer type (conventional versus organic) and climatic region. For dual purpose crops (hempseed and fibre output), the allocation of emissions for each product was significantly affected by the choice of allocation method (i.e. mass versus economic). The GHG emissions associated with hempseed and straw produced in Canada were comparable to those produced in the EU. Field emissions and fertilizer production contributed the most emissions, followed by fieldwork.

In the second part of the study, the carbon footprint of two select intermediary products were assessed: 1). processed hemp fibre (bast and hurd) used as a feedstock for other products, and 2). non-woven bast fibre mats used for erosion control and insulation. In terms of findings, the bast fibre and hurd from co-harvested straw had the lowest production footprint when allocated by its market value (economic allocation), followed by fibre-only production of feedstock and co-harvested straw allocating by mass. A similar result was applied to the production of hemp-based nonwoven mats. The GHG emissions of hemp-based products were similar to those produced in the EU. Significant contributors to carbon footprints were the emission from hemp straw production, and electricity consumed during manufacturing.

With an ever-increasing global focus on sustainability, this research fills an important gap in understanding the environmental impact of hemp production in Canada, and provides necessary data for the development of environmental product declarations (EPDs) of current and future hemp-based products.