Fiber foods

Italian project aims to clean up polluted land and make fiber products

An initiative in southern Italy aims to boost hemp cultivation to clean up polluted land while producing hemp stalks to be made into building materials and other fiber products.

The project, a cooperative effort between the province of Matera, the city of Coldiretti and the National Agency for New Technologies and Sustainable Energy (ENEA), focuses on a contaminated area classified as a “site of national interest”. in Basilicata, a region of forests and mountains.

Better in every way

“These techniques for remediating polluted land are much cheaper, more effective and have less impact than conventional techniques,” said Gianfranco Romano, provincial president of Coldiretti, who suggested that growing hemp could help clean up the polluted industrial land associated with Valbasento, and the energy company located in the province.

Project officials say establishing hemp cultivation in Matera can also boost employment and economic development by encouraging agricultural entrepreneurship.

Basilicata is a region of forests and mountains.

“The great advantage of using plants for non-food purposes is to guarantee farms an income from cultivation on otherwise unusable surfaces”, said Salvatore Arpaia, principal researcher and scientific director of the ENEA-Coldiretti initiative. .


Italian hemp players are proactively continuing to clean up the environment, thanks in part to research conducted last year by Vito Gallo, professor of chemistry at Bari Polytechnic. Gallo’s studies have shown that hemp grown to clean up polluted soils can be safely used for hempcrete construction and to generate energy.

While acceptable concentration levels of contaminants have yet to be established, hemp dilutes the metals in the biomass in such a way that the treated material poses virtually no health risk, Gallo has found through studies in BIO SP.HE .RE., a separate hemp-specific organization. research initiative.

Arpaia said an initial survey found high levels of mercury at various sampling points at the Valbasento site. Researchers will now test different varieties of hemp, looking specifically for those that are most effective at cleaning up contaminants that are slower to be absorbed by plants.

A major problem

Polluted land is a major problem in Italy. Other studies have found a number of heavy metals in samples of locally grown hemp flowers. Research by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, a public health body, showed that 87% of 31 samples from different places in the country contained high concentrations of fungicides, insecticides and heavy metals.

Italy has been a European leader in exploiting the hemp plant for environmental cleaning, with other important initiatives already underway:

  • Local officials in the town of Roccasecca, in the province of Frosinone in the Lazio region of central-western Italy, aim to make the province a national center for hemp processing, reclaiming poor soils while attracting industry and investment to the region.
  • An initiative in Umbria, a region adjacent to Lazio, is looking closely at the potential of fiber products in a plan that emphasizes hemp’s potential for cleaning up contaminated land and phyto-purifying water.

With reports of Industrial Sofa