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Hemp Plastics

Henry Ford used hemp-and-sisal cellulose plastic to build car doors and fenders in 1941. On video Henry Ford demonstrated that his hemp cars were more resistant to blows from a sledgehammer than steel-bodied cars were.

The basic building block of plastics is cellulose taken from petroleum, but toxic petrochemical compositions are not the only way to derive plastics. Plastics can be derived from plant cellulose, and since hemp is the greatest cellulose producer on Earth (hemp hurds can be 85% cellulose), it only makes sense to make non-toxic, biodegradable plastic from hemp and other organics, instead of letting our dumps fill up with refuse. Hemp hurds can also be processed into cellophane packing material, which was common until the 1930s, or they may be manufactured into a low-cost, compostable replacement for Styrofoam.

A recent technological advance with biodegradable plastics made from cornstarch has led to a new material based on hemp. Hemp Plastics (Australia) have sourced partners who have been able to produce a new 100% biodegradable material made entirely from hemp and corn. This new material has unique strength and technical qualities which have yet to be seen before, and this new material can be injection or blow-molded into virtually any shape using existing moulds, including cosmetic containers, Frisbee golf discs, etc.

Zellform (Austrian) has created a hemp-plastic resin called Hempstone, for use in musical instruments, loudspeakers, and furniture. Hempstone can be carved in almost any shape making the number of applications unlimited.

Hemp is already being made into compressed door panel and dashboards. Carmakers such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda, and Mercedes are currently using hemp composite door panels, trunks, head liners, etc.

These hemp composites are less expensive than dangerous fiberglass counterparts. Hemp fiberglass replacements would only cost 50 to 70 cents a pound. These hemp composites could replace carbon and glass fibers, which have environmental and weight problems, and run from 60 cents to 5 dollars a pound.
The reason why virtually all European car makers are switching to hemp based door panels, columns, seat backs, boot linings, floor consoles, instrument panels, and other external components is because the organic hemp based products are lighter, safer in accidents, recyclable, and more durable.

The possibilities are endless with hemp plastics and resins, and bio-composites. Virtually any shape and purpose can be fulfilled by bio-composite plastics. Hemp plastics are already on the rise, it is only a matter of time before we will see the need to grow hemp in the United States to meet our demands.

9 comments

  1. Mark Culkin

    I have built a grand lodge out of hemp crete ten years ago and I am hardly a newcomer to this subject, but after all these years of having the awareness of the potential for all the uses of hemp I still see it is very difficult to ferret out hands on instructions for producing such things as hemp plastics and or expandable hemp based sprayfoam for example. Anything to offer here and why such things that I know perfectly well exist are so difficult to pin down.It seems to me that in the same way that you would make UFFI foam you could replace the urethane pellets and the urea formaldeyhyde solvent to come up with something for hemp spray foam technique?

    Posted on 10 September, 2011
    • Kim Paddock A.S.D.

      Hi Mark! I agree with you on the lack of information on hemp and hemp based products. I am looking for a manufacturer of hemp plastic pellets and found one in Autralia. I can find no others. It was my wish to produce a specific product from hemp plastic and it may prove difficult. The technology is there but in the U.S. or many other countries it seems hard to get your hands on it. http://blogs.sjsu.edu/today/2011/hemp-plastic-water-bottles-steals-the-show-at-innovation-challenge/ check this link. The public is very interested.

      Posted on 21 December, 2011
    • Val

      I am currently working on getting a local market built for hemp products starting with hemp-lime masonry…
      just curious about your build, is it a snowy cold location? how is the outside finnished?

      Posted on 8 October, 2013
  2. paddy

    Hi,

    Just had a quick question… How quickly does hemp plastic biodegrade???

    Posted on 22 June, 2012
  3. Tedina

    Love you all—Go! Go! Go!

    Posted on 28 July, 2012
  4. Roger Mason

    Is it legal to import raw hemp plastic pellets for injection molding into the USA?

    Posted on 17 October, 2012
    • Hemp.com editor

      No, they cannot grow and thus are allowed by the Federal Government.

      Posted on 17 October, 2012
  5. Costa

    Great stuff. Who is the largest manufacturer of hemp plastics or industrial composites out there??

    Posted on 15 November, 2012
  6. Kyle Smith

    If you have heard of the great pacific garbage patch, plastics derived from hemp seem a reasonable solution. I am in collage and I am interested in starting a company that makes hemp based products, is there anyone I could discus the legality of doing this in america with? Or just discuss hemp in general.

    Posted on 16 May, 2013

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