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IS HEMP A PLASTIC POLLUTION SOLUTION?
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IS HEMP A PLASTIC POLLUTION SOLUTION?

Anonymous | September 09, 2019 | 3 0

Despite claims about hemp plastic’s ability to clean oceans and limit landfill growth, the truth is less universally positive.

If current plastic consumption patterns persist, by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight, according to a 2016 World Economic Forum report. In the meantime, plastics will continue to leach into the human body, and while scientists debate the certainty of toxicity studies determining that the Bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics are carcinogenic, the FDA will continue to review BPA’s safety. And of course, plastic consumption will increase petroleum consumption, wreaking havoc on the environment and geopolitical stability.

Clearly, widespread plastic use is dangerous to humans and the planet — but is hemp-based plastic, widely touted as a less toxic and biodegradable material, truly a viable alternative? When hemp’s market size, funding limitations, technological innovations and biodegradability are considered, the solution seems far from a silver bullet.

The Market Size of Bioplastics

The bioplastics market in 2013 accounted for approximately 1.1 million metric tons of product, with an expected growth rate of 17.5 percent between 2015 and 2020. Much of this demand is for compostable bags, plastic bottles and food service disposables like cutlery and to-go ware.

Currently, corn and soy represent the bulk of the bioplastic market, with corn being the primary feedstock that provides the cellulose and oils necessary for bioplastics.Both corn and soy are heavily subsidized in the U.S., creating massive production possible at artificially low prices. The economies of scale for corn and soy make it more affordable to produce bioplastics that can be cost competitive to petroleum-based plastics, but at this stage in the market, it would be difficult for hemp to compete.

Trey Riddle, CEO of Sunstrand, a fiber processing facility in Louisville, KY states, “If [hemp] were to have some sort of unique performance characteristics, then of course that is always intriguing and kind of game-changing, but if it just performs the same as the other options, then it really just comes down to a cost issue.” Jim Happ, President of Labcon North America, a disposable labware products manufacturer who has collaborated with bioplastics suppliers, states, “Nobody wants to pay more.

They want the benefits of having a bioplastic, but they don’t want to pay more than conventional plastics. [The price] needs to be equal to or not 10 percent more than conventional plastics. People will pay a small premium, but they are not going to pay double.” Happ stated that petroleum-based polypropylene pellets fluctuate between $1.00-$1.15/pound. If hemp plastics were to compete with petroleum plastics, the price per pound would need to be no more than $1.27/pound.

According to Mark Linday at Green Springs Technologies, current market prices for hemp plastic are $2.35/pound.

Hemp Cellulose vs Hemp Oil

Though hemp bioplastics can be produced from either cellulose in the fibers or from oil in the seed, it is likely that hemp plastics will primarily be produced from fiber because of the higher value of hemp oil, says Riddle. But beyond price, technological issues exist for using the hemp oil or any plant oil as a polymer. Fossil fuels produce long fatty acid chains that are necessary for creating popular single-use plastics.

Plants also produce fatty acids, but they are short chains that need to be converted into long fatty acid chains. The process is energy-intensive and expensive, which makes bioplastics more expensive.

However, Riddle states, hemp hurd could be effective as filler in plastics. “At a 2:1 hurd [ratio], at significantly less cost, hurd has a lot of opportunity as filler in plastics as well,” says Riddle. “Putting hemp in polymers, that is a no brainer.”

Funding Barriers

While federal regulations have prohibited the growth in the hemp supply needed to reduce costs, federal regulations that view hemp as a dangerous substance have also limited funding. For example, a company called Pure Hemp Technology has developed a Continuous Countercurrent Reactor (CCR) that uses hemp’s lignin polymers to create terephthalic acid, which makes up 70 percent of the feedstocks in plastic bottles. CEO Ed Lehrburger states that their “CCR technology is ready… but we are waiting for funding to scale up to the first small commercial demonstration scale.”

Biodegradable Challenges

While hemp is touted for its biodegradability, the true potential is unknown. When hemp is used as a composite plastic today, it is blended with other polymers and additives that reduce the recyclability and biodegradability potential. If hemp were used as a polymer on its own, it may be biodegradable, but may not have a useful market. “You can’t have a water bottle that will dissolve in one year, it’s got to be a water bottle that will dissolve in 20 years,” Lehrburger says. “So the industry needs to conduct a lot of R&D, as far as the biodegradability in terms of certain plastic products used.”

In addition, oftentimes, people believe that bioplastics rapidly biodegrade in landfills; however, that is not the case. For bioplastics to rapidly biodegrade, they must be placed in industrial scale composters under specific pressure and heat. These composters degrade material within 180 days, but unfortunately are uncommon in the United States and often become contaminated with non-compostable plastics.

The Need for Fiber Markets

Ultimately, to have a successful hemp plastic industry, the hemp fiber industry must thrive. Today, there is a market for high-value hemp plastics like automotive composites, and the more the grain and cannabinoid markets grow, the cheaper the fiber will become. However, the plastics market for low-value products like water bottles is years away, if not decades. To compete in this market, we must increase the scale of production so that hemp cellulose outcompetes the price of cellulose in corn, soy and other agricultural commodities. But most of all, it must be cost competitive with petroleum plastics.

Originally published in HEMP’s Issue 2. SUBSCRIBE HERE.

Comments(3)

  • Dec 23, 2019, 01:15 PM  Reply

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Have you ever tried painting the sky or knitting a sweater for your spouse? Find a way to develop something positive from the circumstances. 4 - Don’t Be Lazy Whether you are at work or home, acting sluggish can have negative circumstances. A prime example is taking a bath. In theory, the warm water is supposed to be soothing, along with some candlelight and classical music in the background. But in reality, the water gets cold too quickly. You may be hanging out with germs that lead to staph infections. Cell phones often fall underwater, and filth-muck builds up on the tile. Trying to take a bath can become more of a strain than a relief. 5 Finally, it is wise to avoid social media and news outlets, especially during controversial events. Unfortunate occurrences, like a friend’s recent divorce or the death of a loved one can easily bring down one’s spirits. You may also get reminded of broken relationships and other lousy stuff that happened to you in the past. There is no reason to look at a high school bully’s family photo or read his political rants. As long as you remain positive, relaxation can be a walk in the park.

  • Dec 23, 2019, 03:38 PM  Reply

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Beginners should start with a low dosage to assess how their bodies will react to it. Then try to increase the dosage slowly as you monitor your body’s response. Take time to research the oil or edible that you buy and confirm its potency and purity level. Keep off any CBD that has traces of THC, and shop around to find the best CBD for you. Give the CBD time to work after having a heavy meal. How to Choose the Right CBD Product or Edible? Finding the right CBD edible is all about needs and preferences. It is up to the users to decide how quickly they would want the effects of their edibles to manifest. For example, CBD taken in an edible form can take longer to kick in because it depends on the kind of food and your digestion, but its effects are quicker when it is taken as a pill. It is up to you as well to determine whether you want something with fewer calories and sugary such as cookies and gummies. Another thing to consider when shopping for CBD is that the dosages of some edibles are higher than others. First, find out about whatever ailment you are trying to alleviate before picking your edibles. Some edibles or dosages work better for anxiety than others, while others are ideal for chronic issues and muscular pain. CBD lotions, Salve, and Cream are other options for taking CBD. You can apply Salve and Cream on a swollen or injured body part for alleviating pain. Though this is an alternative to utilizing CBD in edibles, capsules, and vaping, it still bears fruits when applied as stipulated. It is an option that users can use daily to alleviate chronic pain and handle stretch marks that are ailing them. Researching the available CBD products and which works the best for you can enable you to make the right decision for whatever CBD product or edible you would want to use. How CBD Edibles Work You first have to understand how the endocannabinoid system in the human body works to know how the effects of CBD edibles kick in. Also known as ECS, the endocannabinoid system is a biological system within the human body, and it comprises of lipid-based neurotransmitters. Its role is to bind to the receptors of cannabinoids that are scattered throughout the central nervous system. The endocannabinoid system produces cannabinoids to regulate different aspects of the nervous system as well as inflammation in human beings. It can help regulate ailments, epilepsy, and pain. Cannabinoids occur in our bodies naturally, but boosting our organs with an external cannabinoid from CBD edibles can increase the positive effects within the endocannabinoid system. The role of the endocannabinoid system isn’t only to respond to internal cannabinoids, but the external cannabinoids as well. Response to external cannabinoids that come in the form of CBD edibles can help mediate inflammation and chronic pain. Science and different studies back up the benefits of CBD edibles, and it is one of the few available natural remedies. Edibles vs. Vaping CBD CBD products are also available for use in vaporizers, but that depends on personal preferences. Some people prefer smoking while others use to take their CBD products in vape pens. Others may want to control their CBD intake by smoking instead of taking in the form of edibles. Taking CBD products in vape pens allows the effects to hit in a little quicker than taking them in the form of edibles. Vaping is a viable option for someone who would not want to wait for minutes or hours for the effects of CBD to kick in after eating. However, both edibles and vaping are discreet in a way, and the CBD will have the same results as long as the dosage remains the same. Incredible Benefits of CBD Edibles Long-Lasting Relief CBD edibles have several benefits over gummies and CBD inhaled with vape pens. It can take a while for CBD edibles to take effect, but the results can last longer than vaping or smoking. CBD edibles combine the active compound of cannabinoids with other foodstuffs for better results. The digestive system releases CBD slowly as digestion takes place. The results might take longer to manifest, but they are long-lasting. Non-Psychotropic Effects Of course, CBD is a compound of the cannabis sativa plant, but many people are surprised to find out that its psychotropic effects aren’t as high as THC. Instead, it offers users a sense of alerted energy and mellow mood uplift. Given its long-lasting nature, cookies and brownies infused with CBD can provide prolonged relief from everyday stressors and mild pains. It is an excellent option for anyone who would want to enjoy the effects of cannabis without any side effects. Easy to Make Though some prefer making infused cooking oils and cannabutter, CBD edibles such as brownies and cookies are simple to make. You can even add CBD extracts to baked and cooked foods for an antioxidant boost. However, note that the effects of isolated CBD are less effective compared to the cannabis plant. You can now find CBD crystals made with isolated and purified CBD online and in access points. CBD edibles are easy to dose and can give a user more control over their CBD intake. Less Risk of Lung Irritation Vape pens have become popular than ever, but their long-term implication is still yet to be determined. Thinning agents such as polyethylene and propylene glycol are also present in many vape pens. Research suggests that heating these thinning agents to temperatures above 224? can produce toxic carcinogens. Vape pens that don’t contain these thinning agents are available, but CBD edibles are an excellent option to avoid poisonous compounds. General Remedy Researchers suggest that care physicians can use CBD in medicine. Several CBD-infused drugs have already proved successful in treating ailments, epilepsy, and pain in clinical trials. CBD doesn’t benefit people with chronic conditions only, but anyone else who consume it as well. However, it may not work well for people with ailments related to first-aid. Research has found that some CBD edibles work the same as over-the-counter remedies, and their side effects aren’t as harsh as some of the pharmaceutical drugs. Discreet Some CBD forms are impractical or cumbersome. You could be using a large vape pen, and pulling it out in public may sometimes not be convenient. People who would want to boost their focus during the workday or relieve pain during a long flight can consider bringing with them a CBD gummy. Available Online Online availability is another benefit of CBD edibles. Though regulations on CBD products are little strict, online CBD vendors across the United States can sell their products online and ship them anywhere. You can also find CBD products in a handful of European nations. Those edibles that are sold online are derived from the hemp plant. People often refer to cannabis when discussing a variety of plants that can produce THC. The hemp plant was used for seed and fiber, but it is now being applied to low-THC and high-CBD cannabis cultivars. Any cannabis with as low as 0.3 percent THC, which is the required threshold is considered hemp in the United States. Hemp products sold online contain less than 0.3 percent THC.

  • Jan 06, 2020, 06:19 AM  Reply

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