A new report from the Centre of Environmental Law estimated that plastic pollution will contribute greenhouse gases equivalent to 850 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere this year alone. By 2050, it could emit as much as 14% of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Yeah – plastic waste is a huge problem, and it’s no longer enough to recycle, reduce and reuse in 2019.
As our hunger for convenience increases, we can’t realistically expect people to stop buying plastic altogether, right? Here’s where hemp comes in.
Industrial hemp is being noticed as an ideal plastic alternative because of an organic compound called cellulose. Cellulose is the main substance found in plant cell walls which helps the plant to stay stiff and strong, and plastic, which is of course stiff, but malleable, relies on cellulose as the base of its makeup. But most plastic relies on cellulose from petroleum, a non-renewable energy source. Why? Essentially, it’s cheap and easy.
It’s totally possible to make plastic with other sources of cellulose – and hemp is, according to Cannopy Corporation, ‘the greatest cellulose producer on Earth.’ So, for Cannopy and other like-minded organizations, hemp presents a great opportunity as a sustainable source of plasticizing material. Thanks to its high cellulose content, hemp plastic can lend itself to virtually any shape and purpose – furniture parts, toys, packaging, and more. And of course, this is a super fast-growing renewable resource. Win win for us and the earth.
So why don’t we see more companies using hemp plastic? Basically, it would require a lot of new data, research and investment to be fully put to use in production and manufacturing industries. For example, Coca-Cola actually invested in hemp plastic bottles back in 2015 and apparently came to the realization that it would require too many changes in its production line. Obviously, Coke can invest major money into experimenting with production, but smaller businesses just can’t.
While hemp is ‘booming’ as an industry, we don’t necessarily have the adequate technology in place to meet a mass commercial demand for plastic. Hemp is still ‘niche,’ for all intents and purposes.
However, big names like Cannopy are working on creating hemp-based plastic solutions for any and all kinds of purposes, forward-thinking industries are noticing – carmakers like Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda and Mercedes are currently using hemp composite door panels and trunks, for example. These high-profile examples are a major step in the right direction – non-toxic, biodegradable plastic from hemp saves our dumps from a lot of refuse. The more we see hemp being used in mainstream products, the more accessible it can become.
Right now, a popular avenue for hemp-based plastic is for packaging materials – and plastic packaging is a major part of the world’s plastic problem, making up to 40% of plastic waste. A couple companies to keep your eye on – the Hemp Plastic Company, a Denver-based company which specializes in making hemp-plastic based packaging for any and all industries, and Sana Packaging, another Denver-based company which designs hemp-plastic, compliant packaging solutions for the cannabis industry. These up and comers are a reason to have hope that hemp plastic can find its way into the world.
We can talk about hemp plastic being the way of the future, but if you’ve heard of Henry Ford’s hemp car which was made back in the 40’s, you know that hemp plastic is by no means new. It’s always been a versatile, durable and valid a construction material. If you know, you know. Be one of the people who chooses to support hemp and lighten your carbon footprint. We’re here for you.