Hemp Composites Can Wipe Clean Plastic’s Nasty Carbon Footprint
Hemp plastics are a form of hemp composite made from non-toxic, biodegradable hemp fibers. Hemp fibers are extracted from the stalk of the hemp plant. Commercially they are produced as composite plastics or pure-hemp fiber plastics.
Hemp bioplastic is eco-friendly and can replace many oil-based plastics. Hemp bioplastic can also be recycled many times. The more hemp it contains, the more it can be recycled. So, what we need to achieve is pure 100% hemp plastic.
We can use hemp composites in building entire houses and pavements.
Hemp composite holds the key to our future. We are heading towards a future made of hemp. A car, an airplane, motorcycle, a boat all can be made entirely with hemp composites. The material has also found use in the aviation industry. Get ready to travel in planes that are lighter, and more importantly biodegradable.
Many automobile corporations are using hemp. In 2017, Bruce Dietzen – a former Dell executive – built a sports convertible from just about 100 pounds of cannabis hemp.
Hemp bio-plastics can be used in almost all industries that are currently using plastic. We need to encourage this change to recover from plastic’s carbon footprint.
The Horrifying Carbon Footprint Of Traditional Plastic
Plastic is inexpensive and ductile. It’s no surprise that each industry has found a way to exploit this material. Look around you, almost all your things have some amount of plastic. It’s safe to say that we are addicted to the convenience of this material.
But what are the consequences of this convenient product? Have you ever thought about where plastics come from?
Plastic resins come from petroleum. This process involves extraction and distillation. These resins are formed into products and then are made available to us in the market. All these processes emit greenhouse gases.
But the story doesn’t end there. CO emissions go beyond the lifespan of plastic.
You might think that your use of plastic is justified because you recycle. But overall, only 10% of the plastic manufactured is being recycled. Dumping, incinerating, composting (for certain plastics), and even recycling, all release carbon dioxide and contribute to our already scary carbon footprint number.
In 2015, carbon dioxide emissions from plastics were equivalent to 1.8 billion metric tons.
Most of the plastic material is designed for single-use. Till date, over 300 million tons of plastic materials are manufactured every year.
A recent research study showed that 50% of all plastic manufactured is used in packaging. This plastic material is also designed for single-use. You use it once and then discard it.
Plastic waste is only a small part of our concern. Life on the planet is endangered due to the production and consumption of plastic. Plastic is a chemically made material. It is non-biodegradable and highly toxic. Your plastic items release harmful toxins into the atmosphere.
Let me give you some figures to help you understand what I mean by plastic being non-biodegradable.
You go to a shop, take your plastic bag and after using it, discard it. After all, how much harm can one plastic bag do? Your one plastic bag can take up to 500 years to start decomposing. Each day, plastic bags like yours clutter our environment and increase our carbon footprint.
We are slowly killing our planet by using plastic.
- Production of 1 kg of polythene (Polyethylene PE is the most commonly used plastic for plastic bags) requires 2 kg of oil for energy and raw material.
- Burning this 1kg of oil creates about 3 kg of carbon dioxide. Hence, about 6kg of CO₂ will be released during production.
- Your average plastic bag’s weight will vary between 8 g to 60 g. Your common sturdy plastic carrying bag should have a weight between 25 g and 40g.
- If you take the above relation between kg plastics and kg of carbon dioxide, you get 200 g carbon dioxide for 32.5 g of plastic.
- For 5 plastic bags in your home, you get 1 kg of CO₂.
These figures ignore the carbon dioxide emissions that happen after discarding your plastic. So, the actual number is even higher.
As you can see, we need to switch hemp with hemp bioplastic as it is sustainable. Hemp composites to do the job, are inexpensive and good for the environment.
Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Let me deliver the good news, it’s not.
How Hemp can eliminate the plastic problem
Hemp is a variety of fiber plant, Cannabis sativa. Think of the plant as the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana.
I know what you’re thinking, how can Cannabis save us from the climate crisis. After all, cannabis is a drug.
Well, marijuana is a drug, hemp is not. To be classified as hemp, a cannabis plant cannot contain more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is the high amount of THC in a cannabis plant that makes people high.
This is why hemp bioplastic holds the power to heal our environment:
- The hemp plant grows quickly. You can actually harvest it up to four times a year. So, we don’t have to worry about supplies running out.
- You may question- If hemp doesn’t release toxins, it must surely need pesticides for cultivation which is also bad for the environment? The answer is no. Hemp requires almost no pesticides and insecticides.
- 1 kg of plastic is responsible for 6kg of CO₂ emissions. Opposed to that, hemp can trap 1.63 tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of hemp harvested.
- Hemp also revitalizes the soil and can be grown on barren lands.
- Most importantly, hemp is a zero-waste plant. Each part of this plant offers a more sustainable alternative to the products in the market.
Practical application of hemp as an alternative to plastic
- What makes hemp a durable material is cellulose. Plastics are also developed from cellulose derived from petroleum. This makes for not only a toxic but also an unsustainable material. Contrary to this, we compose hemp of over 80% natural cellulose and it is 100% biodegradable.
- Hemp plastics are five times stiffer and 3.5 times more durable than traditional plastics. They are also highly flexible.
- No one wants to purchase a vehicle that is not durable and more importantly, cannot withstand the impact of an accident. After all, it’s a matter of life and death. Here’s a fun anecdote for you- In 1941, Henry Ford created the first almost 100% hemp-car. He struck the car with an ax, and the ax left no dent.
- But what about the weight? We all know that plastic is lightweight. We don’t need our automobiles and buildings to be heavier than they already are. Hemp plastics are actually a lot lighter than our traditional plastic.
- Some varieties of hemp plastic can also be highly resistant to fire. All hemp plastic will be resistant to heat.
- The use of hemp plastic is not limited to the automobile and construction industry, although it’s gaining popularity in those industries. Your everyday objects can use hemp plastics. Your laptop covers, blenders, iron boxes, etc. can easily switch to hemp plastic.
- If you didn’t know already, plastic is toxic to your health. It contains BPA. Research has linked BPA to cancer and other issues. Biodegradable hemp plastic doesn’t have BPA, nor does it release toxins into the air, like plastic.
Switch to Hemp before time runs out
The global demand for plastic is expected to grow by some 22% over the next five years. If we do not make major changes, emissions from plastics will reach 17% of the global carbon budget by 2050. This means we’ll need to reduce emissions by 18% just to break even.
Plastic in the process of decomposition adversely affects wildlife, humans, and plants. When exposed to sunlight, plastic starts breaking into smaller pieces, and birds and marine life consume these small pieces. Plastics can take up to a thousand years to completely decompose.
Hemp is like an orange peel. No, it doesn’t smell or look like an orange but like an orange peel, it decomposes within three to six months. Hence, it doesn’t adversely affect the environment like plastic.
Given the ecological nightmare that we are living in as conscious citizens of the planet, it is our duty to switch to hemp. It’s not even a matter of choice anymore, it is an alternative we must pick to save our planet.
And, why shouldn’t you?
Nature has already provided us with the miracle solution- hemp. The answer has been here with us all along. Hemp bioplastics can do everything traditional plastics can and they do it better. We must create a market for hemp and settle for nothing less. In this way, we can encourage all major manufacturers to shift their production methods to meet an overwhelming demand that starts from you.
Be a part of this change with me.