4 Ways Hemp Plastic Can Help Save Our Planet
It’s no secret that plastic pollution is rapidly destroying our planet. But scientists and engineers are discovering that hemp plastic could be a possible solution.
According to Plastic Oceans,
out of the 300 million ton of plastic we produce every year, 50% is single use plastic. And from all the world’s plastic produced, only about 9%
has ever been recycled. Plastic is not only an environmental hazard, it’s also a health hazard
. And with this in mind, we have no choice as a planet but to change the way we utilize plastics for the good of ourselves and our environment. So what’s the deal with hemp plastic?
How is hemp plastic made?
Regular plastics are made from a range of materials that aren’t exactly eco-friendly – like crude oil, petroleum and coal. We’ll talk about more about these later. On the other hand, it possible to make hemp plastic from a substance called cellulose. Cellulose is found naturally in the hemp plant. And it’s by using only this cellulose that hemp plastic is produced, making it a less toxic method of production.
We’re now finding so many uses for this versatile plant. It’s possible to build with hemp
, make clothes from hemp
and benefit your health by eating hemp
. But what are some of the benefits of using hemp to make plastic?
What are the Benefits?
Hemp plastic is less harmful to our health
Plastic is full of harmful chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and petroleum. Found in most plastics and also in the lining of canned foods, BPA is raising some serious health concerns. It can leech into our food when it’s heated in plastic containers or when we place food which is too hot in tupperware. It also gets released as plastics age and become damaged.
BPA, which is found in many plastic products, is harmful to our health
BPA is a known endocrine disruptor
, meaning is messes with our hormones. In particular, it acts like the hormone estrogen. Even though it’s found naturally in our bodies, too much estrogen can lead to development of cancerous cells in the body. Endocrine disruptors are linked to health issues like cancer, fertility problems,
However hemp plastics do not contain endocrine disruptors, petroleum, or other dangerous chemicals like their toxic rivals. In this way, their natural composition is less harmful to our health.
*If you live in the U.S. and want to know what plastics have BPA in them, review this list of Plastic Resin Recycling Codes*
Hemp plastic is biodegradable
Hemp plastic is biodegradable, unlike regular plastic that takes centuries to degrade
Plastic is literally everywhere in our day to day lives. We freely use mass-produced items like shopping bags, plastic food boxes and drinks bottles. And most of the time without a second thought where they end up. Even though they only take a few moments to use, plastics can take between 450-1000 years
On the other hand, hemp plastics are completely biodegradable. They biodegrade in just 18 months
. One report suggested
that hemp plastic could also revolutionize recycling by putting it into ‘natural landfills’ where nature takes its course.
Hemp plastic poses less health risks to wildlife
Our careless disposal of plastic is rapidly polluting our oceans and landscapes. Environmental educators ‘Ocean Crusaders’ say that our oceans contain 5.25 billion pieces of plastic debris
. Tragically, pieces plastic garbage will likely outnumber all of the fish in the ocean by 2050
Marine life is disproportionately impacted by plastic pollution
It’s not 100% clear yet if hemp plastics are safer for marine life, but plant-based alternatives are being tested by scientists
with positive results.
Fish and marine life end up consuming small pieces of plastic either by mistaking them for food or by accidentally eating them when feeding normally. It can then harm their health by obstructing their digestive tracts, cause physical damage and more
. It can also be passed down to other fish
in the food chain.
However we already know hemp plastic is non-toxic and biodegradable. So this at least is better news for our oceans as opposed to deadly chemical plastics which take thousands of years to decompose.
Hemp plastic production is less polluting
In addition to damaging our oceans, by now you’ll have heard the impact that global warming is having on our planet. This temperature increase is happening as a result of the way we live our modern day lifestyles. A lot of it is down to our use of fossil fuels.
Conventional plastic is made out of petroleum, which heavily pollutes our environment
Most conventional plastic comes from fossil fuels like coal and crude oil. These materials are unsustainable and not ecological. This then contributes to what scientists call ‘the greenhouse effect’. To you and I, this is basically the heating of the earth.
Hemp plastic production has the opposite effect. It can be made from a natural substance called cellulose which is found in the plant. Because hemp plastics are also free from nasty chemicals like BPA and petroleum, it makes the recycling process much cleaner too. When regular plastic is disposed of or recycled, it still leaks harmful chemicals
into our environment.
Growing hemp is also healthier for the environment because it doesn’t need pesticides or fungicides. It’s a plant that can essentially decontaminate the earth because it absorbs heavy metals and other pollutants from the soil. This process is known as phytoremediation
It’s illuminating to see the many ways in which conventional plastic is damaging to our environment and our health. Thankfully hemp plastic shows great potential as a healthier alternative.
Hemp plastic is free from toxic chemicals, meaning it’s better for the health of us and the animals surrounded by it. The production of hemp causes less pollution to the earth’s atmosphere, as well as the physical pollution we see in our oceans. It’s also biodegradable, which results in less damage to nature and our planet.
Ultimately, it’s up to corporations to take note and change their habits of mass production. It’s also important for us humans to spread the word and make conscious changes to our lifestyles which can benefit our planet.
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