Plastics in Cannabis Packaging

Ronald Kander

An Integrated Systems Approach to the Industrial Hemp Industry: Combining Science, Engineering, Design & Economics


Throughout history, the hemp plant has been recognized as a sustainable, renewable source of material with a host of industrial and consumer applications. Currently, hemp is underutilized as a raw material in the US due to nearly a century of laws and policies prohibiting, or severely limiting, its industrial use. Since these laws and policies have changed, the use of hemp as an industrial raw material will continue to increase in the US due to our interest in sustainable, high-value consumer and industrial products made from renewable resources. The challenge is to support this growing agricultural and manufacturing industry by developing:

  1. a basic material science understanding of the hemp plant as an industrial raw material.
  2. engineering processes to transform hemp biomass into new material forms with unique mechanical and physical properties.
  3. new high-value products with well-defined markets that utilize hemp-derived materials.
  4. business models and supply chain simulations for hemp-derived product businesses.
  5. a systems-level understanding of the sustainability of the hemp industry (technically, environmentally, economically and socially).
  6. a description of the infrastructure necessary to support a growing, sustainable industrial hemp industry.

This presentation will outline Jefferson’s efforts to form partnerships between academic institutions, government agencies and hemp industry representatives to work together to develop and describe an integrated system of new materials, processes, products and business models necessary to grow and sustain a robust US industrial hemp industry. Transdisciplinary teams of Jefferson engineers, scientists, product designers and business professionals are partnering with industrial hemp industry professionals and government agencies to address the integrated challenges listed above. Also, we are also developing the education, training and workforce development infrastructure necessary to sustain the human capital needed to support a growing hemp industry.

Specific examples addressing each of these areas will be described that target a wide range of academic, industry and government partners with the goal of developing new materials, processes, products and business models necessary to grow and sustain a robust, integrated industrial hemp industry. It will “take a village” to advance this industry in the US to the point that it can compete on the national stage. I look forward to working with you all as we take on this challenge.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ronald Kander is the Associate Provost for Applied Research at Thomas Jefferson University. He is also the founding Dean of the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce at Jefferson and is a Professor in the College’s Engineering Program. Dr. Kander received his BS in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware. He teaches and does research in the areas of material selection, materials processing, characterization of composite materials, and systems modeling.

Before joining Jefferson, he was founding Director of the School of Engineering at James Madison University and a faculty member in the Materials Science & Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. Before that, he was a Senior Engineer at DuPont in the Advanced Composites Division of the Fibers Department and in the Polymer Physics Group of the Central Research Department.

Dr. Kander’s recent work has focused on an integrated study of the material science, process engineering, product design, supply chain economics and sustainability of industrial and consumer products made from hemp-derived materials. He is a member of All Together Now’s Hemp Coalition and also serves as Chair of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Steering Committee.


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