Why? Natural, Renewable “Plastic”
Hemp “plastic” can provide a sustainable alternative to current oil based plastics. Plastic is in quotes because by definition a plastic is something, either partially or wholly, synthetic. Making “plastic” out hemp would provide a natural way of doing this. 1.6 billion gallons of oil are used each year for plastic bags alone. This plastic waste alone could be fixed by carrying around a hemp bag with you instead. Europe has been making a strong push in recent years to stop using plastic bags entirely. Beyond bags, think about every other product you come into contact with on a day to day basis made from plastic. Know that new car scent everyone has grown to love? That is actually the smell of a toxic gas being produced from uncured plastics in the car. So the next time you take a deep breath of that smell, realize it’s pure toxins you are enjoying. Making plastics out of a non-renewable source such as petroleum oil has long term implications on the planet. Hemp provides an alternative to that, by being able to make them out of a safer, renewable material.
Much progress has been made in recent years in the field of hemp plastic. A lot of the strides have come from the growth of another field, 3D printing. 3D printing, if you are unfamiliar, uses some form of filament to extrude into whatever item you wish. This field has had some amazing growth and advancements to come out of it, and only continues to do so. The basics of the filament come down to two different general sources, ABS and PLA. PLA (Poly or polylactic acid or polylactide) is a biodegradable and bio active thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources. Well, what happens to be a fantastic source of biodegradable thermo plastic? Hemp does. While still a relatively new industry, and hemp is an even newer player into that industry, it shows a tremendous amount of potential. Many companies are already 3D printing hemp things to demonstrate proof of concept. Hopefully in the near future that will transfer into a whole new line of hemp made items, where the possibilities now literally become endless. If you can think it, you can 3d print it with hemp!
Beyond the environmental help that this would provide, current plastics have a lot of health concerns. Conventional plastics contain harmful chemicals such as BPA (Bisphenol A), which is suspected of causing neurological and behavioral problems in fetuses and young children and has also been linked to brain, breast, prostate, reproductive and immune system cancer. BPA has also been shown to advance puberty in teenagers, cause heart disease, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and even recurrent miscarriages. Many of the one-time use water bottles that we see everywhere are made from a plastic called Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE). Studies have shown that over time or when encountering minimal heat, PET leaches the toxin DEHP into the bottle’s contents. DEHP has been linked to obesity, diabetes, learning disabilities such as ADD and ADHD, cognitive and brain development problems, sexual development problems, and even cancer.