One of the most significant contributors to pollution is plastic. Not only is it filled with harmful additives and made through the use of fossil fuels, but it also takes hundreds of years for plastic to degrade. In fact, there is a patch of plastic and sludge the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean right now that is killing ocean life in untold numbers. By 2050, the United Nations estimates that the ocean will weigh more in plastic than fish.
With our planet literally choking to death on plastic, people are desperately looking for a plastic alternative that won’t pollute the Earth. Believe it or not, hemp just might be the solution to our plastic problem, and here’s why:
Hemp Plastic is Bio-Degradable
One of the biggest selling points for hemp plastic is that it is bio-degradable. While your run-of-the-mill plastic bag will take several centuries to degrade, it only takes hemp plastic three to six months to degrade. Naturally, this means that hemp plastic may not always be a perfect fit for every plastic application. But when it comes to single-use products, like plastic straws, hemp would make an ideal replacement.
Making Hemp Plastic is Better for the Environment
Another benefit of using hemp plastic over regular plastic is that its manufacturing process does far less damage to our environment. According to Forbes, most plastics today are made by fossil fuels extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking is a process where deep rock formations containing petroleum and natural gases are fractured with high-pressure liquids.
Although energy companies tout fracking as a “clean” method, the truth is that fracking can pollute the air, ground soil, and water supply with a host of harmful toxins. One of the most notorious examples of fracking pollution can be found in the documentary Gasland, where in one scene a man sets his water tap on fire by merely holding a lighter next to the faucet
Since hemp plastic is not made from fossil fuels, it has none of the baggage that comes with traditional plastic.
Hemp is a Great Source for Plastic
Aside from the fact that hemp plastic is better for the environment, hemp is simply an excellent source of plastic. One of the critical components of plastic is a material called cellulose. When looking for an ideal source for plastic, you generally want to use a material that has high concentrations of cellulose. In addition to hemp, two of the leading sources of cellulose is cotton and wood.
On average wood contains approximately 40% cellulose and cotton has cellulose concentrations of around 90%. Hemp contains roughly 65%-75% cellulose. Although hemp has lower concentrations of cellulose, cotton requires 50% more water to cultivate and four times as much water to process. While cotton might make a “better” source for plastic than hemp, when you take into consideration the environmental impact, hemp wins out.
Combating pollution and climate change is never easy. Over the last several decades, humans have become set in their ways and often don’t want to give up many of the amazing inventions that have been discovered, like plastic. But luckily, thanks to hemp plastics, they may not have to.