Hemp plastics: why the world needs them


Hemp-based plastics are becoming an increasingly viable option as an environmentally friendly alternative to carbon-based plastics. Not only is this bioplastic derived from sustainable industrial hemp plants, but it is often biodegradable and recyclable.

Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade and most plastic waste is not recycled. Plastic is a huge environmental problem. So, what can we do about it?

While it is impossible to get rid of the current plastic on our planet, we can take active action against this problem by using biodegradable alternatives to plastic and encouraging others to do the same.

Plastic is a major source of pollution and waste, can hemp offer an environmentally friendly solution

Table of ContentsHemp Plastic – A Green Alternative

It may come as a surprise, but the fibers in hemp can be used to produce a fully biodegradable plastic alternative that offers the same properties as synthetic plastic. In fact, hemp plastic is carbon negative. This means that it intermittently removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than is released when it breaks down. In essence, hemp absorbs carbon dioxide pollution. Many environmentally conscious brands and companies have already started using hemp plastic in their products. Hemp plastic could be the plastic of the future.

Most plastics produced today are made using petroleum-based compounds that release harmful gases into the atmosphere. Waste solutions are inefficient and harmful by-products are toxic to our soil, water and wildlife. Yet consider the possibility that there is a way to address the supply of much of what we use that does not cause a negative greenhouse effect, is sustainable and biodegradable, and has a cost that is virtually indistinguishable from our current techniques.

Modi, A. A., Shahid, R., Saeed, M. U., & Younas, T. (2018). Hemp is the Future of Plastics. In E3S Web of conferences (Vol. 51, p. 03002). EDP Sciences.

Hemp plastics are nothing new

Hemp plastics are a rediscovered and reimagined innovation. Historically, hemp has been used as a building material for thousands of years. Before prohibition in the 20th century, America consumed about 3,000 tons of hemp per year

Durable ropes, fabrics, industrial building materials and more are historical uses of hemp. Before the 1930s, hemp was also used in products such as cellophane film and a type of compostable Styrofoam.

Current research shows that hemp is a great material on its own or as a reinforcement for other materials such as soy-based plastics. This applies both to its use in thinner plastics, such as packaging materials, and in larger applications, such as construction materials.

Final Thoughts on Hemp Plastics

The future of hemp plastics is bright. It is clear that hemp is a viable, economical and environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based hard and soft plastics. The benefits of hemp plastics far outweigh their petroleum-based counterparts.

Change takes time, but slowly hemp plastic products and packaging are coming to market. If you want to show your support, look for hemp alternatives for everyday items such as disposable cutlery and paper products, and hemp fabrics for clothing. You may be surprised to find that everything from suitcases to phone cases are made from hemp plastic!

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