Hemp Plastics

Hemp Plastics

It is time the world saw a massive change, for our planet, for humanity. Being an avid climber and hiker I am outdoors as often as I can be. One thing I have noticed in my travels through nature in trying to get away from society, is that society has already left its footprint in the places I visit. I can hike the most scenic trails here in PA, one thing that always seems to be present, is plastic. Plastic bottles, cups, candy wrappers, grocery and sandwich bags, empty cigarette packs etc.

When driving, I see it along roadways, ditches and sidewalks, as well as our rivers, lakes, and oceans. It is literally everywhere, even in our own stomachs. Yes, you read that right, you and all your loved ones consume plastic, daily, without ever realising it. In March Rolling Stone Magazine published an article called Planet Plastic. In that article was a vast amount of useful information, and it was quite eye opening to say the least.

In this article, written by Tim Dickinson, he states ​ “Every human on Earth is ingesting nearly 2,000 particles of plastic a week. These tiny pieces enter our unwitting bodies from tap water, food, and even the air, according to an alarming academic study sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, dosing us with five grams of plastics, many cut with chemicals linked to cancers, hormone disruption, and developmental delays.”​ The United States, and China are the two countries that contribute the most plastic waste every single year on a global scale.

In 2013 the world collectively produced 8.5 million tons of plastic waste, 14 percent of that (roughly one million tons) being recycled in some way, with only 2 percent (20,000 tons) of the 14 percent being recycled effectively. Whales, dolphins, turtles, birds are dying by the hundreds if not thousands every year from ingesting plastic that is mistaken for other prey. Even household pets die annually from ingesting plastic and up to one million people die every single year from mismanaged waste, mostly plastic! Greenhouse gasses increase every single year with a large percentage of that coming from mismanaged waste also.

Around 1 million tons of the United States yearly plastic waste is simply put on a boat, and shipped elsewhere to become a poorer country's problem and they do not have the means to recycle these massive amounts of plastic being unloaded upon them. All the while TV advertisements stream through American television sets showing the importance of recycling and reusing our plastics to keep the planet green.

Yet again, the U.S. also contributes to around 121,000 tons of plastic dumped into the ocean annually. Take the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for example. This is just one of five giant garbage patches floating in and polluting our oceans and it is twice the size of texas. According to The Ocean Cleanup, a non profit foundation that is developing cleanup systems to help remove pollution from the oceans, “​the amount of ocean pollution is set to double in size within the next decade.”

Later in the article Tim Dickinson states that “​American fracking is literally fueling the global surge in plastics. The glut of cheap natural gas here has sparked an explosion in new plastics infrastructure. Since 2010, according to the American Chemistry Council, U.S. companies have ramped up ‘334 chemical and plastics projects cumulatively valued at $204 billion.’”

Molecular chains found in plastic do not exist within nature, so plastic cannot effectively biodegrade in any way. Luckily, Hemp can solve this problem. Hemp can be used in a vast array of applications, such as fiber, food, fuel, plastic, bedding, hempcrete, and more. It also grows quickly and can be grown nearly anywhere in the world, in many different types of soil while effectively removing toxins from the soil, including radiation. It also has the potential to be harvested multiple times a year. Whereas trees harvested for paper take around 10 to 20 years to grow to harvest maturity.

Hemp is a high yield crop, one acre of Hemp produces twice as much oil than an acre of peanuts, and 4 times the amount of fiber pulp for paper than one acre of trees. It has the strongest natural fiber of any resource, and takes less water than cotton and other crops, and does not need as many pesticides if any at all. Hemp grown in the UK has all its water needs
met through annual rainfall. Essentially cutting out the farmers need to water the crop. Hemp plastics are derived from the also biodegradable, effectively breaking down within 3 to 6 months after being discarded.

Once the Hemp fiber has been removed what mostly remains is Cellulose, which is a source of plastic and is biodegradable. According to the Ministry of Hemp ​“Hemp cellulose can be extracted and used to make cellophane, rayon, celluloid and a range of related plastics,” reported Seshata​, a writer at Sensi Seeds in 2014. “Hemp is known to contain around 65-70% cellulose, and is considered a good source (wood contains around 40%, flax 65-75%, and cotton up to 90%) that has particular promise due to its relative ​sustainability​ and low environmental impact.” ​Hemp production cuts down on greenhouse gasses as well as it does not emit CO2, and can be recycled indefinitely.

Hemp truly is a miracle plant, and with so many uses, why shouldn't we make the switch to Hemp instead of trees or chemically produced plastics? It can literally be a win-win situation for the entire world if we allow it the opportunity, benefiting every person, every animal, and everything in between. After all, we are all here on this planet trying to co exist. Keep it healthy, keep it green.