February 21, 2019

Can Hemp Replace Plastics?

 hemp nuts and bolts
 Johnny Hughes is a freelance writer living in County Longford in the heart of Ireland. After spending 10 years of his life in the corporate world he took a chance 12 months ago and left for good. Now he is embarking on a new journey – a discovery through research & writing. Johnny is taking a look at the problems of our world and how Cannabis Sativa L and Industrial Hemp can hemp solve those problems.  Johnny first appeared on LeafScience with his “Cannabis and … ” Series which was hugely popular 
Johnny can be contacted on twitter @johnnyhughescbd


My First Relationship

In September 1993 Sam Baldwin lost the one true love of his life – his wife. He thought he could never love like that again. That was until he met Annie Reed and love blossomed once more.
Romanticism gripped our small nation as Sleepless in Seattle played in cinemas across the Island. Love even got as far as my school playground.
Playing football I was approached by a friend and asked if I would be Helen Smith’s boyfriend. Helen was a nice girl and it was a novelty so I said yes. At the tender age of 10 I was in my first relationship. But it didn’t feel as special as Tom Hanks convinced me love was to be. Too afraid to say it to her face I pulled a sicky the next day and got my friend Joey to break up with her.

Toxic Relationships

We have all been in relationships that should have ended sooner but didn’t because we lacked the courage to end what we knew was bad for us. We stayed in these relationships because we were getting something from it. Security, sex, stability – whatever it may have been.
We became addicted so much so that we hid the ugly truth and rationalized staying.
We only decide to leave a relationship when we learn that it is ok to be single or if someone better comes along. Some people, afraid and trapped never leave nor do they look for someone better and so remain in that toxic relationship until the poison eventually kills them.

In 2018 we witnessed the rise in concern over how Plastic Wastes are treated

In 2018 we witnessed the rise in concern over how Plastic Wastes are treated

Our relationship with plastic

Relative to our planets age and our time as a species on this planet; our relationship with plastic only began minutes ago. We fell into a trance; an illusion of love at first sight. We were attracted to plastics lustrous shining curves. The endless products. The cheap price!
Petroleum plastic was good to us at the start, showering us with gifts. Since 1907 we have been inundated with plastic toys, plastic clothes and plastic electronics – practically everything has been made from plastic. We became addicted to what plastic could give us. Even when our friends told us what petroleum plastic was really doing we didn’t want to believe it.

 Plastic Caught Cheating

When petroleum plastic gave us the phone it was the equivalent of the wedding ring. Too concerned and distracted by our screens we were not aware of what petroleum plastic was up to. Plastic was and is still cheating on us. It is sleeping with our soil spreading disease. It is sleeping with our ocean, killing its inhabitants. The clues are there. The plastic bag in the ground. The bottles washing up on the beach. But we turn a blind eye to him. He gives us so much. We need petroleum plastic. No matter the consequence. Our relationship with plastic is now more akin to Sleepless in Stockholm syndrome than Seattle.

Can we break up with plastic?

I got my friend Joey to break up with my first girlfriend because I was afraid of confrontation.
Self help books will tell you that in order to leave a toxic relationship there are 3 steps.
First you need to recognize that the relationship is toxic. In terms of plastic it is safe to say that humanity has completed its first step.
Step two is to get rid of all the excuses. This has started. We need to open our eyes to see petroleum plastics individual failures as a continuing trend. Step 3 is to have the conversation.
A conversation on how we can keep plastic but lose petroleum.

Plastic Products often end up as waste in the worlds oceans

Plastic Products often end up as waste in the worlds oceans

Fear of being alone

No man is an island nor any woman. One of the biggest fears of leaving a toxic relationship is the fear of being alone. Having no one. In this technological age we need plastic. We need all the brilliant innovations and benefits that plastic has given us. We need to get all the benefits without the violence towards our home – Earth. So is there someone else out there who can satisfy our needs and respect our home? Is there someone who can give us the benefits of plastic without the violence?

Past Partner

One of the longest relationships that we humans have had is with hemp. Cannabis Sativa L. We were going out for thousands of years.
Hemp provided food, clothing and shelter and even took our unwanted CO2 and gave us oxygen.
Then in 1907 something shiny and new caught our eye. We were forced to break up with hemp and started dating petroleum plastic. Hemp was banished but never went away completely Patiently waiting for us to realize our mistake; not to condemn but to grow together again.

Does hemp plastic exist?

Yes. Hemp plastic is nothing new. Henry Ford used hemp along with other plant materials to create his first Model T. It was stronger and lighter than metal which resulted in more mileage. Today BMW and other manufacturers use hemp to create door panels. We have hemp plastic didgeridoos, guitars, Speakers etc.

BMW door panel showing how useful Hemp has the potential to be

BMW door panel showing how useful Hemp has the potential to be

Out of sight out of mind

If we all lived on Henderson island in the pacific I guarantee you petroleum based plastic would be banned. If we could see micro plastic fibers in the sea with our eyes I guarantee you petroleum plastic would be banned. The old adage of ‘out of sight out of mind’ rings true. But not for much longer. In January 2018 China banned the importation of our plastic waste. Now It’s only a matter of time when our beaches, our roads and trees have plastic seeping out of them.

Plastic please

I, like so many, enjoy the gifts that plastic has given. None more so than the incredible computing power in a tiny chip which allows us to communicate with each other. Plastic to keep our food fresher for longer. Plastic in hospital supplies to stop infection spreading. The list is endless but oil is not. So can we keep all the benefits of plastic but lose that teeny weeny negative that is the extinction of all life on planet earth?

Hemp plastic technology

Zeoform is leading the way as an alternative to petroleum plastic. Zeoform’s patented process converts cellulose fibers and water (and nothing else) into industrial strength molding material. They use Hemp fiber which is around 77% cellulose and renewable! Not only this but Zeoform can use waste biomass materials as well! Zeoform is non toxic, biodegradable, compostable and locks up carbon! Currently zeoform R&D have estimated a production cost of $1.50 – $25 per kg. As it scales up so to will the price go down.
Zeoform is in its infancy and it will be interesting to see how quickly this new technology is adopted. I will be updating Zeoform’s progress on twitter – @johnnyhughescbd.

Divorce or Die

Divorcing oil for our plastic needs is not a question of if but when. Sometimes talking about the decay of our ocean, our soil, even our air quality can be almost abstract.
So what if I told you this plastic was inside you. Petroleum carcinogenic micro-plastics are in you right now. Conversation is the 3rd step in getting out of our toxic relationship with oil so share this article and lets get talking. Let us divorce oil and fall in love with hemp again.
This really is a matter of life or death – sooner or later.