We talk about plastic pollution, but we do not necessarily take it seriously. If we did, the situation would be different today.
In 2016, a population of more than 7 billion across the globe produced over 320 million tons of plastic. The average daily level of plastic pollution in our oceans and seas is 8 million pieces.
The estimated number of macro and microplastics drifting around in our seas and oceans is 5.25 trillion. Their weight is about 269,000 tonnes. Plastic pollution kills about 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and one million seabirds every year.
It does not leave the land or even the human body unaffected. Health research says that 93% of Americans aged above 6 test positive for BPA. It is a chemical in plastic that has links with several serious health hazards.
Not really a joke, is it?
Cellulose constitutes the main ingredient of plastic. Currently, cellulose for plastic gets derived from petroleum. As it happens, hemp is also very rich in cellulose. It is possible to produce plastic from hemp, therefore.
The primary factor behind plastic pollution is the nearly indestructible nature of petroleum-based plastic. Hemp plastic, on the other hand, is fully biodegradable.
For example, hemp fiber gets produced from the stalks and these fibers are then used to produce biodegradable hemp plastic.
Being biodegradable and eco-friendly is reason enough for hemp plastic to replace petroleum cellulose-based plastic completely. But this recyclable bioplastic has several other benefits as well.
Nontoxic: In sharp contrast to the hazardous BPA effect of PP plastic, hemp bioplastic is entirely nontoxic for the human body. It does not generate toxic fumes if burned.
UV Resistant: This bioplastic is thermal and UV resistant. Some varieties of hemp bioplastic are also flame resistant. Hemp plastic has 2.5 times more strength than usual polypropylene (PP) plastic.
Cost-effective: The production of hemp bioplastic is easier than that of plastic. It is also more cost-effective. A recent European study reports that hemp plastic can reduce carbon emission by 30 to 80% in comparison with PP plastic. Its source, the hemp plant, is also carbon negative.
One of the major challenges against the growth of hemp bioplastic is its association with narcotic cannabis. Hemp farming is prohibited in several countries as a result.
It is time for governments around the world to realize the advantages of this versatile bioplastic. Hemp plastic offers a sustainable way out of the use of traditional practice.
Let us take committed steps towards fighting the menace of plastic pollution. Let's say no to plastic and ask for hemp bioplastic instead.
Guest Blogger: Deepika Singh