What is Hemp Bioplastic and What Are the Benefits?

It’s clear we need to transition to sustainable, eco-friendly plastics. In 2019, for example, more than 350 million tons of plastic was created in the world. Sadly, much of this plastic ends up in the environment, in our oceans and waterways.

Hemp bioplastic offers a solution.

Manufactured from industrial hemp, this type of bioplastic offers many advantages compared to carbon-based plastics. For one, hemp plastic is biodegradable. It can biodegrade in as little as six months, compared to traditional fossil fuel-based plastics which can take 500 years or more to decompose. It’s plant-based. It’s sustainable, renewable and ecological. The list of advantages go on and on.

Recently, MHO Containers introduced our first hemp bioplastic jar, and we’ve made a commitment to reducing plastic waste and launching more sustainable plastic bottles and jars. We’re excited about the future of hemp bioplastics, and wanted to share some of the pros of plastics made from hemp and describe how these plastics are made.

How Is Hemp Bioplastic Made?

Hemp has a very high cellulose content, as high as 65% to 70%. And that’s a key reason it’s a useful material for bioplastics manufacturing. In fact, cellulose plastic is already a top bioplastic produced around the world.  

To make hemp plastic, cellulose is extracted from the plant. For many years, this process was difficult and expensive. Yet, in recent years, new extraction methods have been discovered, which make it easier and more affordable to extract pure cellulose from hemp. Cellulose extraction processes are continuing to be studied and refined.

For instance, researchers at South Dakota State University are currently exploring methods for cellulose extraction from plant residue. The methods they are researching can be applied to hemp. And as those methods continue to be refined and developed, hemp bioplastic’s use will likely grow exponentially.

In 2020, for example, bioplastics had just a 5% market share. By 2030, that’s expected to grow to nearly 40%, according to Statista data. In other words, the future of plastics is hemp!   

Key Benefits of Hemp Bioplastics

As an alternative to fossil fuel-produced plastics, hemp-based plastics offer many advantages. Considering that plastic pollution is destroying natural ecosystems, the biodegradability of hemp plastic is a key advantage. Yet, there are many other reasons hemp plastic is a more eco-friendly, sustainable alternative, including:

Biodegradability of Hemp Plastic

Traditional plastics can take more than 500 years to decompose, and some plastics take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. Unfortunately, in that process, these plastics break apart, leaving microscopic particles in the ocean and in waterways. In fact, it’s estimated 90% of sea birds have plastic in their gut.

Hemp plastic is biodegradable. In some cases, hemp plastics will biodegrade in as little as six months. The conditions must be right, but in a high-heat compost pile, many hemp plastics will quickly decompose. This is important: Because hemp plastic decomposes so quickly, this type of bioplastic is less likely to be consumed by animals or end up in water systems.

Hemp Bioplastic is Non-Toxic

Many traditional plastic sources contain harmful chemicals like BPA. These chemicals can lead to hormonal imbalances in people, as well as in animals that consume these plastics in the ocean or environment. Hemp – when produced sustainably – is non-toxic, offering a safer alternative to BPA-containing plastics.

Hemp Cultivation Absorbs Carbon Dioxide

Many traditional plastics are made from fossil fuels. This process releases emissions into the environment. Cultivating hemp, on the other hand, actually absorbs carbon. It’s estimated that one acre of hemp sequesters up to 16 tons of CO2 each year. This can help to offset the emissions created by plastics manufacturing, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of plastics.

Hemp Plastic Is Durable

Hemp plastic is much more durable than polypropylene, one of the most common types of traditional plastic. In fact, it’s estimated that it’s 3.5 times stronger. Yet, it’s also slightly lighter; therefore, you’re getting strength, without increasing packaging weight and shipping costs.

Shop Our Sustainable Hemp Plastics

MHO Containers is continuing to increase our sustainable plastics product selections. Currently, we offer a hemp bioplastics-based jar. Made with 25% hemp plastic and 75% recycled plastics, this is a 100% sustainable packaging solution.

These make a sleek, stylish and eco-friendly packaging container for cosmetics, creams and other health and beauty products. Shop now!