Hundreds of millions of tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year, causing serious impacts on environmental and human health. Transitioning away from fossil-fuel-based traditional plastics to greener alternatives is a necessity. Our eco-friendly plastics allow you to become part of the solution. Using renewable and sustainable materials, our biocomposites deliver the durability, versatility and availability you love about traditional plastics while helping you reduce your carbon footprint and plastic pollution. The result is a win for both your customers and future generations.
These are bio-plastics made from non-toxic, biodegradable hemp fibers. Commercially produced as composite plastics or pure-hemp fiber plastics, they generally have a tensile strength higher than polypropylene.
In 1941 after twelve years of research, Henry Ford created the first almost-100% hemp-car, which also possessed the potential of running off hemp fuel and vegetable oil. Given the unique properties of hemp, it is no surprise that during the show-off, when Ford hacked the car with an ax, the ax left no dent – proving the strength of the car’s hemp-body.
This is the high-pressure infusion of molten raw materials by a ram or screw-type plunger into a mold, where it cools and solidifies to the desired shape. The mold used could be a single-cavity or multiple cavities, depending on the target end-product.
With the industrial production of hemp bio-plastics seeming to be the next big thing, non-sustainable forms are left for their better alternative. Current research into this field has given rise to fire-retardant products in the UL94, V-0, V-1, and V-2 grades. Furthermore, hemp plastics are easily modifiable to suit plastic injection molding.
Currently, there are several types of hemp plastics, from the standard plastics reinforced with hemp fibers to 100% hemp plastic materials. Listed below are a few of this bio-plastic categories:
The benefits of lightweight structures cannot be over-emphasized. Their high mobility, low energy expenditure, and fast speed give them their supremacy. However, the high cost of raw materials used in their production is a prime deterrent.
The emergence of inexpensive hemp fibers with their relatively favorable density to weight ratio has gotten several industries, especially the automotive industry taking advantage of its capacities. In 2017, Bruce Dietzen- a former Dell executive, having been inspired by Henry Ford’s hemp car, built a sports convertible from just about 100 pounds of cannabis hemp.
In line with the current trend of sustainability, industries are making the switch to more sustainable, health-safe raw materials for production. Hemp’s potential to grow prolifically, with a short decomposition period, and easy recyclability, makes it an excellent raw industrial material.
Despite its fast decomposition, hemp plastics are five times stiffer and 3,5 times more durable than the traditional plastics. They are also stronger than the regular steel, resistant to wear-and-tear, and highly flexible.
During respiration - as with all photosynthetic plants in, hemp absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, converts it to oxygen, and releases it, thereby reducing greenhouse gases and minimizing global warming.
When used in bio-materials manufacture, this CO2 remains in the products and is not expelled, if utilized, and appropriately discarded.
According to the Hemp Industries Association in 2012, the U.S Hemp industry was worth about $500 million in annual retail sales and hemp cultivation. Economic analyses have seen a two digit growth in the European Union, due to the 500,000 tons of bioplastic manufactured in a year.
Concerning the market price, there is a vast difference between hemp plastics and traditional plastics because of the unavailability of bio-plastic processing machinery. Despite this, several other companies like Lego are promising to progress from the use of fossil-based resin to hemp plastics by 2030.
Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the early 1950s. More than half of it ended up either in landfills or in the natural environment. Most plastics are made from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas and coal, all of which are non-renewable resources. It takes anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years for a piece of plastic to decompose in a landfill. When burned, toxic gases such as mercury and dioxins are released.
Hemp plastic, on the other hand, is fully biodegradable and can decompose in as little as 3-6 months in the right environment. For comparison: A conventional plastic water bottle can take up to 500 years to decompose. Furthermore, hemp grown on toxic soil absorbs the toxins but does not release any toxins into the air itself. Another benefit of hemp plastic is that it can be recycled as many times as is required.
There are several ways to make hemp-based plastic. For example, it is possible to use hemp cellulose to make plastics such as celluloid, cellophane, and rayon. Already a popular bioplastic, cellulose is an essential component of the cell walls of many plant species of algae. The high cellulose content of hemp (65-70%) makes it an ideal material for the production of plastics. For comparison: wood contains about 40%, flax 65-75% and cotton up to 90%.
In order to produce the pure cellulose needed for polymerized hemp plastic, all non-cellulose material must first be removed. Unfortunately, this form of production is a long and complex process that consumes a lot of energy. For this reason, pure bioplastics are also more expensive to produce than their petroleum-based alternatives. Currently, the price for the production of hemp-based plastic is therefore significantly higher as well, estimated to be twice as much, than the price for the petroleum-based plastic alternative. For this reason, polymers are not yet directly derived from hemp on a commercial scale.
Most, if not all, hemp plastics on the market today are biocomposites - a blend of hemp fibers with other plastic compounds. Hemp fibers are used to reinforce an existing polymer and create a fiber-reinforced biocomposite. Currently, most of the hemp plastic on the market contains between as little as 5% and a maximum of up to 30% hemp biomaterial. Therefore, many hemp plastic products advertised as “sustainable” are actually just conventional plastics mixed with hemp biocomposites. These materials cannot be recycled, nor do they offer any real sustainability benefits over traditional plastic products.
Nowadays, there are already a few brands that specialize in making products from hemp plastic. In 2019, Swedish biocomposite developer Trifilon won the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) Product of the Year award for its BioLite product, which consists of 30% hemp fibers and offers an even lighter alternative to carbon fibers. Currently, various brands produce ecological packaging, furniture, surfboards, food wrap, plastic pens, CD cases, musical instruments and insoles for 3D printers using hemp bioplastic compounds. In the automotive industry, plastic made from natural hemp fiber has been a popular fiberglass replacement for certain auto parts for many years. Big companies such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz frequently use it for the production of door panels and rear shelves, among other things, for certain vehicle series.
So, could hemp replace plastic entirely? The short answer is: No. Currently, the necessary production facilities and suitable recycling facilities specialized for hemp plastics are lacking to take the plunge. This means that it may take many years from now before there is enough production capacity to circulate pure hemp plastic on a global scale. Nevertheless, hemp plastic is definitely a very promising product that could increasingly come into focus in the future due to its robustness, durability, and versatility.