In case you didn’t know, the agricultural hemp, which is a non-mind altering variety of cannabis, comes with dozens of potential uses, ranging from paper to clothing. Most scientists agree that it’s about time that we minimize our dependence on fossil fuels. Since hemp can help make the soil cleaner, it’s still a surprise as to why this miracle plant is not widely used.
Unknown to many, hemp is already appearing at some commonplace objects, such as cars. Soon, it will find its way to more items. However, there are certain barriers that actually prevent hemp plastics from becoming easily available.
Alternatives Are Very Necessary Because Plastic Pollutes the Environment
The harmful effects of global warming have become a major concern in recent years. It’s for this reason why experts are advising the public against the use of conventional plastics that linger in the environment for thousands of years. These plastics will even enter into the food chain and have detrimental effects on the human health and on the animals too. The oceans are also said to be in a worse state, thanks to the plastics that are lingering there, especially those tiny fragments of plastics that have polluted the seawater and are often eaten by marine life species.
Hemp Cellulose Fibers Are a Great Source for Plastics
The earliest types of plastics were made from cellulose fibers that were obtained from organic and non-petroleum based materials. In the same way, the hemp cellulose is extracted to use in making rayon, cellophane, and a wide range of plastics. Hemp is made of 65 to 70 percent cellulose and thus, is a great source for cellulose. The amount of cellulose in hemp is substantial compared to wood, which only has 40%. Furthermore, hemp’s relative sustainability and low environmental impact make it a really great source of material for plastic.
Although it’s still a rarity to find plastics that are 100% hemp-based, there are already composite bioplastics that are widely used. These plastics are made from a combination of hemp and plant sources. Composite bioplastics are also known for their rigidity and strength, and thus, they are currently in use in the construction of boats, cars, and musical instruments.
Bioplastic Can’t Solve All Pollution Problems
Most of the plastic products that we use today are made from polymer resins and these include PET or polyethylene terephthalate. This material can be found in most of the everyday products that we use, such as plastic bottles. Although advocates are hoping that someday all plastic bottles will be 100% hemp-based, the technology is just not ready yet.
But the good news is that a lot of companies these days are investing heavily on researches dedicated to traditional PET alternatives. It’s highly possible that the first company that will be able to produce viable hemp-based commercial plastics could stand to earn millions out of it. Unfortunately, even plastics that are designed to be biodegradable could still possibly pollute the environment.