Could Hemp Replace Plastics?

With the devastating impact the widespread use of plastics is having on our planet, there has been a concerted effort by global governments to find alternatives that could replace plastics. Sometimes these alternatives, such as biodegradable plastics (eg, polybutyrate, polylactic acid and polycaprolactone) can become even more toxic than conventional plastics when disposed of, and broken down, in landfills. Our planet urgently needs to find truely planet-friendly plastic substitutes to replace plastics, rather than placing a band-aid on this critical and ever-increasing problem.

Enter Hemp.

Hemp can be moulded and used to replace the many familiar plastic products we see today. Containers, toys, bottles, components, car parts and furniture, are just some of the things that could be replaced tomorrow if governments would put more urgency on this pressing world issue.
The damage caused by plastic goes further than just the damage it does to the environment. Human health is affected as the majority of plastics are manufactured using petroleum based compounds and contain endocrine disruptors, (such as Bisphenol A – BPA). Such compounds interfere with our endocrine (hormone) system, causing hormonal imbalances which can then lead to tumours, cancers, birth defects and many more conditions. We can unknowingly ingest such dangerous chemical elements, or they can leach into our groundwater and soil. This in turn is also shown to have serious negative implications for the planets wildlife and the natural environment.

Because plastics are made using petroleum, it is a large contributor to rising CO2 emissions. The hemp plant actually absorbs four times more carbon dioxide than trees over its much shorter growth cycle, and, naturally converts this into oxygen. Plus hemp, as a replacement for plastic, produces no toxic byproducts.

When comparing the strength properties of plastic against that of hemp, it is a no brainer. Hemp is 5x stiffer and 3.5x stronger than the common plastic, polypropylene. Added to all these advantages hemp is also very lightweight and safe.
Whilst I am not saying that hemp is the only alternative, it is a genuine option if we are to finally move away from the destructiveness of fossil fuel plastics.
Hemp as a replacement for plastic may work out to be currently more costly to mass produce than conventional plastic production, but when you add together the overall impact to our planet, it a no-brainer that the enforcement of environmentally-friendly alternatives should be made, and made soon. Hemp is but one of the strong options the planet needs, and needs fast!

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