Hemp Plastic

hemp plastic
Hemp bio-composite before finishing

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. Clearly hemp plastic and composites are not a new technology but with todays science and know how the future of hemp plastic has never looked more promising.

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.

hemp plastic and compositesThese hemp composites and hemp plastic 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.

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16 thoughts on “Hemp Plastic”

  1. We should be working on making a hemp plastic building material that won’t biodegrade and fire proof, then we can start building structures that will stand through time. Through preengineerimg building material we could incorporate many different types of structural and technological factors right into the material. There is a ton we can do that we dont even know about yet…I’ve got more than a few ideas is like to try out someday, if I had the resources. I’m just glad to see the world has open up their eyes to new possibilities.

  2. 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.

    1. HEMP is a plant therefore it is already part of the earth before you bury it. I’m not sure about how long it will take to completely decompose

  3. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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?

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