Is there potential in hemp for bioplastics?
As more companies move towards biopolymers as an alternative to fossil-fuel-based plastic, some are considering hemp as a potential biomass source, but can this ‘wonder crop’ make an impact in
the world of bioplastic? Heidi Vella investigates. The humble hemp plant has long been known for its versatility: alongside bamboo, it is one of the quickest growing plants and is routinely refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, textiles, and food products.It is, however, perhaps more closely associated with the drug cannabis, both of which are derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Although a different product altogether, it’s the US’s deregulation of this more infamous product that is driving a burgeoning new market – one using hemp to produce bioplastics for packaging. The 2018 US Farm Bill changed federal policy, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the consideration of hemp as an agricultural product: meaning farmers can now cultivate it industrially, the waste from which many say is an ideal bioplastic feedstock.
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