BIODEGRADABLE AND RECYCLABLE HEMP PLASTIC
By Peremma Saiyini
The amount of plastic waste thrown out each year is enough to circle the Earth four times, lose 7.3 million hectares of forest, and emit greenhouse gases into the environment. The expanding worldwide issue that we deal with every day includes these environmental dangers. To minimise the escalating environmental pollution brought on by synthetic plastic, an alternative must be developed. It's time to present you to HEMP PLASTIC, the only product made only from hemp plants that totally degrades in the environment. What is hemp plastic then? It is a bioplastic made from sustainable, biodegradable materials and derived from the cellulose of hemp plants. Cellulose is the basis for all plastics, even those manufactured with petroleum. Hemp-based polymers can be made from the leaves, seed husks, and stems of the hemp plant, which are typically considered as byproducts by farmers growing hemp for cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG). Traditional plastics need to be replaced primarily due to their toxicity, chemical inertness, production risks, and scarcity of natural resources. In the paragraphs that follow, the differences between conventional and hemp plastics and the need to replace them are covered in more detail.
Benefits of Hemp Plastic
BENEFIT #1: BIODEGRADABLE AND RECYCLABLE
Industries are switching to more sustainable, health-safe raw materials for manufacturing in keeping with the current trend of sustainability. When wholly derived from a hemp plant, hemp plastic is both recyclable and 100% biodegradable. Hemp plastic breaks down in three to six months rather than taking 500 years. Petroleum-based plastic can also be recycled, although doing so can be dangerous because the plastic is filled with toxic compounds like Bisphenol-A. (BPA). We could create a new cycle that would be far more environmentally friendly if we used more hemp plastic. Traditionally, we conceive of recycling as the conversion of waste into useable material. Plants are harvested, sorted into essential production components, and then a final product is produced. After being used, it is dumped in a landfill, where nature will take its course and separate it into the necessary nutrients essential for the plant's growth, and the cycle will then be complete.
BENEFIT #2: RENEWABLE SOURCE
Petroleum is a finite resource, and we are using it up much more quickly than it can be replaced. Inversely, hemp spreads and grows swiftly. It can grow in a range of soils worldwide and reaches maturity in about four months. The following season, hemp can be planted again after being harvested.
BENEFIT #3: TOUGH AND FLEXIBLE
Hemp plastics, unlike glass fibres, do not cause safety and health issues and can be five times stiffer and 2.5 times stronger than polypropylene. They also do not wear out the screw as well as the mould the way that glass fibres do. One of the biggest reasons it is preferable to traditional plastics is that it is flexible. Hemp plastic appeals to a variety of sectors because of its robustness. Hemp plastic is becoming used in the construction, automotive, and packaging sectors. The density to weight ratio is very high, yet it is very lightweight. The advantages of lightweight construction cannot be underlined enough. They are superior because to their excellent mobility, minimal energy requirement, and rapid speed. As a result, it might possibly be applied to the aerospace industry to reduce the weight of large structures. A former Dell executive named Bruce Dietzen created a sports convertible out of around 100 pounds of cannabis hemp in 2017. He was motivated by Henry Ford's hemp automobile. Hemp is a versatile material that can be used in place of traditional polymers for any application. Excellent thermal, UV, and dimensional stability are features of hemp plastic. Some varieties of hemp plastic are also flame-resistant.
BENEFIT #4: NO TOXINS
Hemp doesn't include any of the ENE chemicals, such as toluene, benzene, or similar substances, which are the most toxic byproducts of plastics made from hydrocarbons. Endocrine disruptors, including BPA, are present in conventional plastics and have an impact on the human body's endocrine or hormonal system. A hormonal imbalance brought on by BPA's action as the hormone oestrogen when it enters your body might lead to the growth of cancerous tumours. Since hemp plastic is only made from the cellulose derived from the hemp plant, there is no toxicity involved in its creation.
BENEFIT #5: CARBON TRAPPING
Hemp has a quick 12-to-14-week development cycle and can absorb four times as much carbon dioxide as a tree. Additionally, compared to products based on non-renewable energy sources, hemp plastic delivery uses 22–45% less energy. Hemp farms that are removing carbon dioxide from the environment can be spread across fields, acres, and even hectares (as plants do). The carbon from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is then utilised to manufacture plastics, and when those plastics are disposed of in landfills once they are no longer useful, they will biodegrade and return carbon to the soil. Therefore, it is effectively carbon negative, removing carbon from the atmosphere and reintroducing it to the soil.
How is Hemp Made into Plastic?
Hemp can be turned into plastic in a variety of other methods, therefore the process can change. The process' primary phase is the extraction of cellulose from the hemp plant. It is possible to accomplish this by pulping hemp plants and separating the cellulose with the help of water, acid solutions, heat, and/or pressure. The cellulose can subsequently be transformed into a variety of hemp bioplastics, such as:
• Hemp cellulose: An organic polymer mostly utilised in the production of paper, but it may also be used to create a broad variety of other polymers.
• Cellophane and rayon: Regenerated cellulose fibres are used to create cellophane film, the covering for that bowl of leftover salad, and rayon fibre, which is used to create a variety of fabrics, including the clothes you're wearing right now.
• Cellulose nanocrystals: Can be employed in a variety of applications, such as barrier films, nanopaper, and more.
• Nanocellulose: A "pseudoplastic" that may switch between a liquid or gel-like form. A very absorbent material that has been used to mop up oil spills and in sanitary items, nanocellulose has several beneficial uses.
• Composite hemp plastics: Cellulose-containing plastics that also contain a variety of other polymers, both natural and artificial. Composite products come in a wide range of variations and can be used to create a variety of things, such as building materials, boats, car panels, and more.
After twelve years of research, Henry Ford produced the first car made almost entirely of hemp in 1941. This vehicle also had the ability to run on both hemp fuel and vegetable oil. Given the special qualities of hemp, it should come as no surprise that when Ford chopped the car with an axe during the demonstration, the axe left no scratch, demonstrating the durability of the car's hemp-body.
Fun fact: The car's tubular welded frame was the only steel component.
A ram or screw-type plunger is used to inject molten raw materials under high pressure into a mould, where they cool and solidify into the required shape. Depending on the desired end product, a single cavity or many cavities may be employed in the mould.
Non-sustainable forms are being abandoned in favour of their superior substitute as industrial manufacture of hemp bio-plastics appears to be the next big thing. There are now fire-retardant products available in the UL94, V-0, V-1, and V-2 ratings as a result of recent study in this area. Hemp plastics can also be easily modified to work with plastic injection moulding.
Uses of Hemp Plastic
1. Building Materials
Numerous construction materials, such as plastic, concrete, and plasterboard, can be replaced with hemp. Hemp plastic is an excellent substitute for fiberglass-based building materials since it is more durable and safer. In fact, utilising compressed hemp fibres, we may soon be able to build a whole house. The nicest thing about hemp-based building materials is that they are more environmentally friendly than traditional building materials, cost-effective, and resistant to a variety of factors.
2. Car Manufacturing
Henry Ford developed the first automobile parts made of plant-based materials in the 1940s. Many automakers are already thinking about replacing plastic and metal parts with natural alternatives. Hemp-based automobile components are carbon-neutral. Due to their 30% reduced weight, they are also fuel-efficient. Because hemp is biodegradable, when these cars get old they won't be a threat to the environment. It's important to note that numerous automakers, including Ford, Chrysler, GM, Honda, Mercedes, BMW, and Saturn, presently use hemp composite materials for things like door panels, headliners, and trunks.
3. Paper Manufacturing
Traditional paper is created using trees. After planting, trees typically need at least 30 years to be ready for papermaking. While hemp takes a few months to regenerate in the field. Because of this, hemp is an excellent material for making paper. Additionally, using hemp to create paper will aid in the preservation of the world's forests. In truth, hemp has been used to make paper for a very long time. The paper made from hemp is of excellent quality. It is naturally acid-free and never brittle or yellow with time like regular paper does.
4. Pet Toys
In addition to goods for humans, hemp is utilised to create goods for dogs, cats, and other animals. Sustainable hemp and organic wool are used to create pet toys by a firm called Honest Pet Products. The company's manufacturing process for these toys is advantageous for both society and the environment. In particular, women from Nepal and the Gobi Desert as well as adults with developmental impairments in Wisconsin produce the toys.
5. Aircraft Manufacturing
A four-seater aeroplane made almost completely of hemp fibre was to be constructed in 2014 by a Florida-based aircraft manufacturer under a contract with the Canadian company Hempearth. The plane's wings would reach 36 feet. Industrial hemp would be used to construct about 75% of the aircraft.
What is the Future of Hemp Plastic?
Why aren't all polymers yet created from hemp if hemp-based plastics are so incredible? The infrastructure needed to create and distribute hemp plastic is only now being developed in both the United States and other countries, therefore that is the reason. Although hemp plastic may not appear to be a game-changer right now, its future is promising. Companies are investing a lot of money today to investigate how to move away from plastic made from petroleum. The toy company Lego has plans to phase out resin derived from fossil fuels by 2030 and is thinking about transitioning to hemp plastic because global warming is a problem.
According to High Grade Hemp Seed, one of the most intriguing aspects of this tale is the possibility that hemp plastic could be produced from the hemp biomass that is left over after harvesting the CBD or CBG-containing buds. That implies that farmers now have an additional source of possible income for their crop. What could be better than increasing your income from hemp production while also benefiting the environment?
In recent years, the need for biodegradable plastics and the biodegradation of plastic wastes has grown in significance due to the ever-growing use of plastic in human life and the increasing restrictions placed on where plastic waste can be disposed of. Additionally, the demand for an alternate method of making plastics is increased by the fact that petroleum oil, the main source of conventional plastics, is becoming less readily available. In any event, hemp is seen as a reasonable alternative to these polymers in nations all over the world that realise the need to reduce petrochemical use. There are many various types of bioplastics available, but hemp is the best. Hemp is superior to other bioplastics due to a number of qualities, including its light weight, adaptability, and rate of disintegration. Though using just hemp plants to make plastics requires more efforts and money, the harm that conventional and other bioplastics are inflicting to the environment is becoming intolerable, hence hemp plastics should entirely replace conventional plastics.
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