Several materials have been discovered that have changed our world for the better and sometimes worse. Plastic is one of the most revolutionary materials today because we can make practically anything from it at a very small financial cost. However, the environmental cost has proven to be massive, which is why alternatives such as hemp plastic have brought up the question “Is hemp plastic eco-friendly?”
So, is hemp plastic eco-friendly? Hemp plastic is eco-friendly due to it being naturally biodegradable, recyclable, highly renewable, easy and safe to manufacture, strong and lightweight, and non-toxic. All of these qualities make it a durable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic.
Traditional plastic has benefited us greatly since it’s discovery back in the early 20th century, but since then there’s been a massive growth in pollution and landfill space mainly caused by plastic. Unfortunately, traditional plastic can take up 1,000 years to biodegrade while containing several toxic materials that can enter the Earth’s soil and waterways.
Hemp plastic has shown to be an incredible alternative to traditional plastic environmentally, practically, and economically. As the future unfolds, there’s no doubt we’ll see more and more products being manufactured out of hemp plastic instead of traditional plastic.
5 Major Reasons Why Hemp Plastic Is Eco-Friendly
Knowing why choosing hemp plastic over traditional plastic comes down to understanding the benefits of hemp plastic. While there are certainly several other plant-based materials, like bamboo, that are used to create eco-friendly solutions to more traditional materials, hemp stands out due to its abundance and ever-increasing popularity.
When taking into account the benefits of hemp plastic, it’s good to keep in mind that there are products that claim to be made out of hemp but contain other ingredients that made it not as eco-friendly as we’d like. When using products made from hemp plastic, make sure you check to see they’re made from eco-friendly materials.
So, what are the reasons hemp plastic is so eco-friendly?
1. Naturally Biodegradable and Recyclable
When hemp plastic is produced, it’s generally made using a biodegradable polymer that makes it into a plastic-like material we’re familiar with. In this process, it allows hemp to retain its eco-friendly properties such as being naturally biodegradable and recyclable, which makes it a whole lot more eco-friendly than other comparable materials.
When plastic is sent to a landfill to let nature take its course and degrade the material over time, being naturally biodegradable means it doesn’t require corrosive, toxic materials to break it down. Since hemp plastic is biodegradable, its nutrients and other natural components will re-enter our environment the way they’re supposed to; naturally.
2. Highly Renewable
Being able to continuously reproduce material in an eco-friendly, renewable way is the only way we’ll be able to keep the planet’s resources sustainable. With hemp plastic, we get just that. As one of the most renewable materials on the planet, similar to bamboo, we can ensure we don’t spend more of our planet’s resources than its ability to produce.
Hemp plastic is made from the hemp plant, which can be grown in a diverse set of environments without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Not only that, but hemp grows relatively quickly so there’s not a huge delay between harvests. This can make a huge difference as we move to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly economy.
3. Easy to Manufacture
One of the major benefits of traditional plastic is that it’s incredibly easy to manufacture in abundance. Well, hemp plastic is also easy to manufacture, and since it’s highly renewable it also comes at a low cost when using it. Using more eco-friendly materials requires more than just a willingness to help the environment. We must also find alternative materials that make economic sense so their use becomes more prevalent much more quickly.
As more companies realize the efficient and economic benefits of manufacturing hemp plastic, there’s been a surge in hemp-based products in general. Thankfully, not only is hemp plastic easy to manufacture, but it also requires fewer uses of chemicals to produce it, making it more eco-friendly in terms of creating toxic waste.
4. Strong and Lightweight
We tend to find high-quality materials to not only be highly durable but also lightweight. When it comes to hemp plastic, that is certainly the case for a number of reasons, especially due to its natural composition when in its plant form.
Hemp has many interwoven fibers that are also quite long compared to similar materials, all of which keeps it strong and lightweight. In plastic form, it carries these properties over rather easily. Many industries could benefit massively from adopting hemp plastic, especially the construction, automotive, and packaging industries.
Through the use of traditional plastic, we’ve all learned that it’s important to know what chemicals could be lingering around in them, especially BPA. These harmful toxins can affect endocrine, or hormone, system in our bodies, which can heavily disrupt the natural stasis of our bodies’ immune system.
When it comes to hemp plastic, it’s know to be 100% non-toxic. Apart from it not bleeding out any strange toxic chemicals, it also doesn’t require toxic materials to manufacture it. What that means is not only is the final product safe to interact with your body, but the process to create it is safe for the air, soil, and water of our planet.
How Is Hemp Plastic Made?
Hemp plastic is a plant-based, eco-friendly solution to more oil-based, environmentally harmful products such as plastic and polyester. While producing most plastics today requires a heavy dose of toxic chemicals and heavy machinery, hemp plastic is far more eco-friendly and clean. With these qualities and more, there’s been a growing interest in companies to start producing more hemp plastic, which is exactly what we want.
Hemp plastic is a member of the bioplastics family, which includes vegetables, straw, recycled food waste, sawdust, bamboo, and more. Some of the benefits of using bioplastics over their petroleum-based competitors are that they generally follow a more eco-friendly manufacturing process allowing it to be 100% biodegradable, non-toxic, and sustainable.
When it comes to creating paper, plastic, and other materials, polymers are required to help shape and form the resulting material. Hemp is packed with a lot of cellulose, which is the most abundant organic polymer you can find on the planet. As a matter of fact, hemp is known to be made of about 65-70% cellulose, which is far above many of its comparable materials.
To produce hemp plastic, these organic polymers known as cellulose need to be extracted from the hemp plant. Since hemp plastic doesn’t require toxic chemicals to be produced, the plant will go through a non-toxic process to produce what is known as nitrocellulose and added to camphor to create the final product.
Since hemp can grow rapidly in a diverse set of environments, it’s proven itself to be one of the most eco-friendly materials for producing bioplastic. One of the biggest goals we can achieve as residents of this planet is to invest in bioplastics such as hemp plastic to create a better world for future generations.
Hemp Plastic vs. Traditional Plastic
Hemp plastic is one of the best ways we can go about improving the health of our world. Unfortunately, more traditional, petroleum-based plastics are more economically advantageous, which makes it more difficult for hemp plastic to break away as a better choice for companies to produce.
However, the financials savings to using traditional plastic add up, the environmental costs of continuing to use petroleum-based plastic are too big to ignore. It’s truly amazing how many of our products are made with some amount of plastic. Without a doubt, you can probably point to almost any object around you right now and find it’s made with some plastic.
One of the major downsides to using traditional plastic is that it can take up to 1,000 years for it to biodegrade. What that means is that it’ll end up sitting in a landfill for a very long time if not properly recycled. Not only that, but the chemicals used to produce it into its existing form will leak out into the soil and waterways.
You might have already known this, but traditional plastic is actually made from fossil fuels, more specifically oil. With the vast amount of plastic being produced, it comes as no surprise that one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions is through the manufacturing of traditional plastic.
Another painful truth to the use of traditional plastics is a lot of it doesn’t get recycled with some studies showing that up to 50% of plastic never gets reused or recycled. That means a lot of waste that ends up in landfills. On top of that, it’s been shown that over 17 billion pounds (or 8 billion kilograms) of plastic ends up in the ocean every year.