In 2017, more than 300 million tons of plastics were used worldwide. We rely on plastics in almost every industry, and plastic is now one of the most widespread pollutants. 91 percent of all plastics we produce worldwide are not recycled. But that could change - thanks to hemp plastics.
The latest technology has opened the door to a new type of environmentally friendly polymer that is no longer relied upon
for oil but for cellulose. Bioplastic is renewable, its production sustainable and sometimes cheap because
produces from agricultural waste. So-called technical hemp is a great source of cellulose and hemp plastic
could change our planet.
Why technical cannabis?
Technical hemp is a type of sativa that is used in industrial environments. Technical hemp
It contains less than 0.3 percent THC, a psychoactive marijuana compound, so it is legal to grow it
in each country of the European Union.
Probably the most important aspect of the cannabis plant, however, is its versatility. Cannabis is
multipurpose crop and each part of it can be used in different ways. Hemp fiber is common
used for the production of light paper, insulation material and biocomposites.
Hemp lining - woody inner cores of stems - is used for litter of animals and during construction. Seeds
Cannabis is very nutritious and you can consume it raw or press oils from it. Raw seeds i
Hemp seed oil is used in food for humans and animals.
Last but not least, technical cannabis is used in the production of cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid that
It has been shown to be very promising in the treatment of epilepsy, anxiety and insomnia.
Although the cannabis plant is versatile, only a few producers are willing to use all its parts.
Some farmers grow hemp for seeds, others for stalks and so on. So in the end
During the agricultural season, almost all cannabis farmers have some leftovers that they can
to sell to bioplastic producers with little profit.
Hemp plastics are popular nowadays, but the truth is that they have been here for almost as long as
the plastics themselves. Cannabis is easy to grow and contains high concentrations of cellulose (up to 70 percent),
so people started making plastics from it before the Second World War.
In fact, Henry Ford - the founder of the Ford car brand - was impressed by the quality
hemp plastics, so in 1941 he designed a car that used hemp plastics for various
Given the historical events that took place at the time, it is not entirely clear whether Ford was
actually a supporter of hemp plastic, or whether he turned to plastic because of the war industry
he needed all the steel he could get, and he needed to build his cars out of something. Ford
however, he used hemp plastic in a prototype car that was never mass-produced.
Today, European consumers are always trying to buy greener goods, so produce
bioplastics is growing in Europe. About a fifth of the world's bioplastics companies are based in
Europe, which is fast becoming a major hub for the entire bioplastics industry, not just plastics
But thanks to a thriving CBD market, cannabis could become a major source in the coming years
for the production of bioplastics. And hemp plastic has its advantages.
Advantages of hemp plastics
1. Hemp plastics are degradable
One of the problems with petroleum-based plastics is that they are extremely durable. Because it is only recycled
a small part of plastics, most of them end up in landfills. Decomposition of common plastics can take thousands of years, however
the exact time for which the plastics decompose is not known. And what's worse, by-products
their decomposition can be toxic to the environment.
In contrast, hemp plastic is completely biodegradable. Decomposition of hemp plastic takes about six
months and its by-products are not toxic to the environment. In the right conditions
cannabis plastic can break down in as little as two or three months.
So even if you don't recycle hemp plastic, it will still decompose into basic components, which
means that it does not create mountains of waste in the landfill.
2. Hemp plastics are not toxic to humans or animals
Hemp plastics are not toxic to the environment and also non-toxic to humans and animals. Plastics on
oil-based substances contain substances that act as endocrine disruptors.
Common plastics contain substances called bisphenol A (BPA), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and phthalates.
These substances disrupt the human and animal endocrine systems.
We will not go into details here, but endocrine disruption is associated with a number
problems such as birth defects, tumor development, learning disabilities, cancer and more.
Interestingly, these endocrine disruptors are one of the reasons why bottled water has
expiration date. While the water does not spoil, the plastic bottle eventually discharges chemicals into it, which it would
could be bad for you. The expiry date therefore serves, among other things, as a safety measure.
3. Hemp plastics are strong and versatile
Hemp plastics are strong. Really very solid. Plastic made from hemp is up to three and a half times stronger
than polypropylene, one of the most common types of petroleum-based plastics. But hemp plastic is
Thanks to these properties, hemp plastics are universal and can be used in various ways. Between
Industries that have begun to rely on hemp plastics include:
- Electrical engineering
- Automotive parts
4. Hemp plastics help the environment
Hemp plastics help the environment because they are made from hemp, which is for the environment
environment in many ways beneficial.
Technical hemp is a robust plant that has deep roots. Cannabis crops prevent erosion
soil, which reduces water pollution. These plants can be grown in the same soil for multiple seasons without
its quality has been damaged. Cannabis also absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduces greenhouse gas emissions
In addition, every part of the cannabis plant can be used, so none of them end up in waste. Cultivation
cannabis has a long-term sustainable course, and because the plastic made from it is also biodegradable,
the whole process and its results are environmentally friendly.
Why can't humanity make all plastics from cannabis?
You may have wondered now why humanity doesn't make all the plastics it needs from cannabis, because
The plant is obviously a great alternative to oil.
There are several reasons why this will never happen. Firstly, and I cannot stress this enough,
You don't want "small" companies in the oil industry to stop earning mountains of euros a day, do you?
They may decide to increase the price of oil to make up for their losses, and in the end you will pay for everything on your own
Second, and this is probably more important, the cultivation of cannabis, which could replace oil in
The plastic industry may not be as useful as you think. Cannabis is an extraordinary plant that
It promises a lot in many industries. But if you would like to replace all plastics
In the world of hemp plastics, you would actually harm the environment.
In order to grow enough cannabis to meet the demand of plastic
industry, humanity would have to plant cannabis on large areas of land. However, the diversity of our planet is already there
now endangered as we cut down forests and turn them into agricultural land to feed
livestock, which we then eat ourselves. What do you think would happen to the forests if we
did they need space to cultivate all the cannabis?
Hemp plastics - final summary
Hemp plastics are a good alternative to conventional plastics. Plastic made from hemp is strong, durable
and lightweight, so it can be useful in many industries.
Most Europeans think that biodegradable plastics will play an important role in the future, namely
is probably true. Bioplastics are slowly but surely becoming a part of our lives. That, however
does not mean that petroleum-based plastics should no longer exist.
The place of dreaming of an unlikely future, where the waste will not be toxic, will not be landfilled
pollute and plastics will not harm the environment, we should encourage people to
plastics were responsibly sorted and sent for recycling instead of being disposed of in mixed waste.
Less than a third of plastic waste in Europe is recycled. There could be an improvement in this value
more beneficial to the environment than biodegradable plastics will ever be. Most so far
The plastic produced is still around. If we don't do something about it, most of it will be around ours
children and the children of our children. Because in the end, it's not plastic that doesn't pollute the environment. They are people.
"Hemp plastics are popular today, but the truth is that they have been here for almost as long as
plastics themselves "
"One of the problems with petroleum-based plastics is that they are extremely durable."
"Hemp plastics are a good alternative to conventional plastics"