Scottish eyewear brand sees big market for hemp

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In Scotland, 25-year-old designer Sam Whitten has launched Hemp Eyewear, a glasses brand using industrial-grade hemp imported from Eastern Europe.

The hemp undergoes a compression-molding process, and the glasses are sealed with resin. A £13,000 crowd-funding campaign will enable Whitten to produce the glasses at the company’s Edinburgh headquarters. So far, Hemp Eyewear has five styles.

“Hemp is a leading-edge sustainable technology that turns organic plant fiber into solid material that is lighter and stronger than carbon fiber,” Whitten tells the Scotsman. Hemp is easy to grow, even in poor soil; does not require weed killers; and uses relatively low amounts of water. It can be used to manufacture paper, food, textiles, fuels, paints, and bioplastics.  “The applications for this are almost limitless, but more importantly it is made from a renewable resource,” he says.

Whitten hopes to source hemp locally, and an organic farm in Peeblesshire will soon carry out a small-scale trial.  “Talks are at an early stage and we need to get proper licenses to plant the crop, but I hope it will happen,” he adds.

Eventually Whitten hopes to add building materials from hemp, such as hempcrete, to his company’s products. “We need to stop using fossil fuels and start using sustainable materials, renewable resources,” he says. “Hempcrete lets us make carbon-negative housing, which is amazing. That’s one of the big things we want to do. It’s in the five-year plan.”