Plastic is the most significant contributor to the water pollution crisis water pollution crisis to date. Regular, petroleum-based plastic takes 500 to 1,000 years to degrade, and less than 9% of the plastic that has become waste never even made it to the recycle bin – that leaves us with about 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste floating around the ocean and polluting the world. Unfortunately, this plastic pollution ends up in our bodies and those of wildlife. Consuming plastic and the toxins it releases on groundwater and soil can lead to several detrimental health effects.
The general public was oblivious to these facts until recently, when the production of biodegradable bioplastics started to become more commercial, and green campaigns began sprouting up worldwide. Bioplastics are those derived from renewable biomass resources such as wood, corn, and food waste. Made using industrial hemp, hemp plastic falls under the bioplastic category.
What is Hemp Bioplastic?
Simply put, Hemp bioplastic is a plant-based plastic material made from the fibers of the hemp plant. It is a biodegradable and renewable alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics that harm the environment.
Why is hemp better than plastic?
From an environmental point of view, it’s evident that the biodegradable properties of hemp plastic make it a much better option. But more than that, hemp grows much easier and faster, making it an extremely efficient crop for these sustainable plastics known as ‘bioplastics.’ In short, hemp bioplastic is much more lightweight, biodegradable, and can replace many oil-based plastics.
Additionally, hemp is stronger, cheaper, and more sustainable than all other bioplastic sources. More robust, these sources contain similar or greater percentages of cellulose. However, for example, cotton requires 50 percent more water to grow than hemp and four times more water to process.
Plastic pollution is a hazard, yet alternatives such as biodegradable hemp plastic can be the right step toward a solution. Let’s dig deeper into why this alternative to plastic is the way to go.
How long does biodegradable hemp plastic actually last?
While plastic’s building block, cellulose, is usually procured directly from petroleum, biodegradable hemp plastic poses a much friendlier, more robust, and sustainable alternative. Hemp plastic can be up to 5 times stiffer and 3.5 times stronger than polypropylene plastic. Extended shelf-lives of plastic mean that fewer amounts of it need to be produced, thus saving time, money, and energy on all accounts.
Hemp is so strong that it is considered “stronger than steel.” This is because hemp can hold almost two times the weight steel can hold before it cracks and can bend nearly six times better than steel. The “cooked” cannabis bark that turns into carbon nanosheets is considered equal to or better than graphene – an object composed of the lightest, most substantial, and most complex material to date.
Its formidable strength and rigidity have brought hemp plastic to the attention of different industries, and it can now be found in the construction of cars, boats, and musical instruments.
Can Hemp Replace Plastic?
Plastic affects wildlife, humans, and the planet as it starts breaking down into smaller particles while exposed to sunlight. These small pieces of plastic are eventually consumed by wild animals such as birds and marine life trickling down plastic consumption onto humans. While traditional plastic decomposition takes about a thousand years, hemp bioplastic only takes three to 6 months. Within half a year, the waste of a product made of biodegradable hemp plastic will entirely vanish – no toxins added to the planet, beautiful!
Not only is the production of biodegradable hemp plastic wholly organic and sustainable, but it also helps absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into oxygen without generating toxic byproducts. Plastic is considered toxic to human health, mainly because it contains BPA, and industrial chemical is proven to be harmful as it is tied to the development of cancer and altered children’s behavior, among others. Yet, biodegradable hemp plastic doesn’t contain BPA nor release toxins into the air.
Is hemp bioplastic expensive?
Hemp bioplastic is also cheaper because it doesn’t derive from petroleum. Comparing the two, a pound of raw polymer is much more expensive than a pound of hemp raw material. In car manufacturing, hemp composites have already begun replacing carbon and glass fibers as they are less costly and dangerous. Hemp fiberglass replacements would only cost 50 to 70 cents a pound compared to 60 cents to 5 dollars for their perilous counterpart.
Due to its strength, cost, and availability, hemp plastic can produce a wide variety of products worldwide, as hemp-based plastic is molded into almost any shape. Its use has been drastically increasing in electronics, containers, toys, cosmetics, furniture, or packaging made from hemp, thus steadily causing this industry to boom. According to Grand View Research, by 2020, bioplastics are predicted to control 5 percent of the plastics market, rising to 40 percent by 2030.
Will hemp replace plastic?
Not for a long time, but hemp-based plastics are the future of this industry. Of course, as we all begin to rationalize the environmental changes and try to pitch in for a better lot, products made out of hemp plastics will become a norm.
Overall, hemp bioplastic can potentially reduce the environmental impact of plastic production and waste and is considered a sustainable and innovative solution for creating a more environmentally friendly world.
Here are some interesting statistics. In the U.S. alone, people use about 500 million plastic straws every day. It’s estimated that 8.3 billion plastic straws are populating the world’s oceans. From these statistics, you can see how much of an environmental menace, single-use plastic straws have become. Since plastic takes thousands of years [...]
Despite the best efforts and campaigns to eradicate the use of straws, it’s ever more apparent that we need a reliable and sustainable alternative to plastic straws. Plastic is unsustainable, and there are straightforward ways in which we could still accommodate modern trends far more sustainably. Ecofriendly choices such as hemp can be [...]