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New Zealand textile maker nears startup of hemp production line

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Two New Zealand companies say their joint venture is finalizing installation of a new hemp processing line through which they plan to turn hemp, wool and hemp-wool blends and non-woven textiles into consumer and industrial products.

New Zealand Natural Fibres (NZNF), a partnership between Hemp NZ and NZ Yarn, a subsidiary of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), say they aim to develop a broad portfolio of products for national and global markets.

UK technology

The new processing line, with proprietary technology from Tatham, a manufacturer of textile machinery based in Bradford, UK, is to produce the goods at NZ Yarn’s existing facility in Christchurch, where the company already makes wool yarn for the global carpet industry. NZNF Chief Executive Colin McKenzie said the new equipment gives the company a unique platform from which to develop market-leading innovations in hemp fiber. NZNF said it believes the factory will be the first commercial processor of hemp stalks for fiber in the southern hemisphere.

“It’s only fitting that today, in the face of looming global environmental challenges, natural fibers including wool and hemp are now re-emerging at the forefront of a global sea-change in consumer preference,” McKenzie told Farmers Weekly.

Potential products

NZNF envisions turning out such products as hemp blends for use in soft flooring, and hemp-wool blended with Merino fiber to produce yarn for outdoor activewear, a business for which the company said it is already has partnerships in New Zealand, North America and Europe.

The company said it is also developing non-woven products, including a hemp-based material that could replace single-use plastic food packaging, and a hemp-based replacement for permeable synthetic geotextile fabrics, which are used to stabilize soil in infrastructure works. NZNF said it is also looking into hemp fiber to produce a bio-composites, packaging and building materials.

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