You’ve heard all the marketing hype about the eco-friendly benefits of hemp. But have you ever considered that hemp is not a miracle crop? In fact, hemp is a relative of the cannabis plant whose fiber and seeds are used in many ways. But hemp, unlike the cannabis plant, is not psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high.
Today, bio-plastics are being used in a variety of industries, including in construction and in the automotive sector. They are used in many forms from food packaging, to fuel, to biocomposites. This is a great green technology that is already in use and is always being improved upon.
One of the biggest threats to our wildlife, environment and global climate is a product that almost everyone on earth uses every day: Plastic (especially single-use plastic).
It is destroying oceans and rivers, covering land and beaches, and filling landfills at an alarming rate.
This is not a problem we can avoid.
Fortunately, there are companies around the world developing cannabis-based plastic solutions.
Scientists are using cannabis to create biodegradable plastics, called bioplastics, that are environmentally friendly and break down in a fraction of the time of traditional single-use plastics.
Almost all household items are manufactured and packaged in plastic.
The goods are covered with several layers when they are shipped to the stores.
There is nothing special about home delivery.
In 2018, the EPA estimated that 27 million tons of plastic were sent to landfills in the United States alone.
According to National Geographic, there will be about 5 trillion tons of plastic and microplastics in the world’s oceans as of 2020.
This problem becomes even more serious when you consider that it takes about 1,000 years for one piece of plastic to degrade.
A more sustainable future
Compared to plastic, which takes thousands of years to decompose, hemp bioplastic takes only 6 months to fully decompose.
Furthermore, the production of bioplastics from hemp significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuels compared to standard plastics.
The Hemp Plastic Company is one of the companies working to solve the plastic problem.
They have developed a hemp-based polymer resin which can be used to make all sorts of objects normally made of hard plastic: Pens, glasses, cutlery, food containers, household items, assembly items and more.
Glen Cale, CEO of Hemp Plastic, says we need to think outside the box when considering plastics solutions.
We should all be aware that hundreds of millions of pounds of plastic are consumed in consumer goods in the automotive, appliance, consumer products, packaging, construction, manufacturing and other industries. Global change must also go beyond grocery bags and beverage bottles.
When asked if he sees a future where plastic is completely replaced by hemp-based bioplastics, Caille replied: While I don’t know how realistic this is, since plastic is a great material used in thousands of applications, I definitely see a future where millions of pounds of fossil plastic will be replaced by carbon-absorbing hemp that grows easily in nature. Why not?
Editor’s note: An achievable reality?
Hemp-based bioplastics are great, but there are barriers to their application.
According to Hemp Magazine, the cost of petroleum-based polypropylene pellets in 2018 ranged from $1.00 to $1.15 per pound.
For hemp plastics to compete with petroleum plastics, the price per pound must not exceed $1.27 per pound.
The market price for hemp plastic this year was $2.35 per pound.
In North America, most of the hemp fibre used for production is imported from Europe.
According to New Frontier Data, more than 100 million pounds have crossed the Atlantic since 2015.
As long as domestic production fails to meet demand, the cost of supply will continue to drive up prices.
Before bioplastics become an affordable reality, the cannabis industry must build the infrastructure for large-scale processing, establish relationships with established producers, and expand its agricultural footprint.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why don’t we use hemp instead of plastic?
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant species that is grown specifically for industrial uses. It has been used for thousands of years to make textiles, paper, and rope. Hemp can be used to make many products, but it cannot be used to make plastics because it does not contain the necessary chemicals.
What is hemp bioplastic?
Hemp bioplastic is a type of plastic made from hemp.
How long does it take hemp plastic to decompose?
It takes about 500 years for hemp plastic to decompose.
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