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Новости/Аналитика

Hemp raw materials - the future of industrial packaging

01.07.2020

Studies by individual consulting companies suggest that by 2030, up to 40% of the plastics industry will use vegetable components as raw materials, and a significant proportion of them will be products made from hemp raw materials. In economically developed countries, the understanding has ripened that the future of packaging is ready for the capitalization of technologies based on the benefits of hemp. 

With the growing number of countries that prohibit the use of non-biodegradable petroleum-based materials and plastics, the question of the appropriateness of using modern biocomposites is increasingly being raised. It is bioplastics that are currently the main component of the renewable packaging industry. They are obtained from various crops, among which industrial hemp is one of the most striking examples of the effective use of raw materials for the production of biocomposites.

Why cannabis?

The consequences of the adoption of the European Environmental Agreement, as well as the legal framework providing opportunities for the cultivation of industrial hemp crops in economically developed countries, have created the conditions under which corporate initiatives to use hemp raw materials as the basis for the production of biocomposite materials are on the rise. A smaller carbon footprint obtained during the production of hemp-based biocomposite materials compared to traditional plastics plays an important role in the formation of consumer demand associated with the creation of conditions for the development of green industry technologies. In addition to environmental friendliness, an important factor in research related to the use of hemp raw materials as the basis for the production of biocomposite materials is the plant’s modest requirements for the amount of water, nutrients, various kinds of preparations necessary for growing hemp plants. Technical hemp absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and uses it to create cellulose in its biomass, and cellulose plays a vital role in the production of bioplastics. Another advantage of growing industrial hemp for the production of biocomposite materials is a short growing period of 3-4 months, as well as a significant amount of green mass obtained from one unit of area.

Among other things, a much larger amount of cellulose is concentrated in the plant than in traditional plant raw materials, which are used for the production of biocomposite materials. Cannabis-based bioplastics are biodegradable and require up to 6 months to completely decompose, unlike conventional fossil fuel-based plastics, which require up to 1000 years to decompose. Another undoubted advantage of cannabis-based biocomposite materials is the ability to use hemp raw materials in existing manufacturing processes for the manufacture of conventional plastics, such as injection molding. Those. manufacturers can use bioplastic hemp ingredients for the manufacture of biocomposite products or bioplastics, from which a huge range of products in demand on the market can be made. Based on the interest of production companies in the use of hemp-based biocomposite materials in their inclusion in their production chains, we will try to briefly describe the production cycle of several types of bioplastics obtained from hemp raw materials.

Hemp cellulose-based biocomposite

Hemp cellulose can be used to produce a wide range of unique bioplastics, including celluloid, viscose and cellophane. Modern production technologies of the above materials allow them to be made completely organic. Recipes for the production of such products are quite simple. Cellulose and its varieties (for example, nanocellulose made from cellulose nanocrystals) are mixed with other ingredients, such as camphor, to produce thermoplastics and similar materials. Using a natural polymer, a wide range of bioplastics and related polymers are manufactured. The difference in their chemical properties depends on the nature of the polymer chains and the degree of crystallization.

Composite hemp bioplastics

Composite plastics contain organic polymers such as hempfire cellulose, as well as synthetic polymers. They also have reinforcing fibers to improve the strength of bioplastics, which can be organic or synthetic. Hemp cellulose is sometimes mixed with other organic polymers such as shellac or wood resins. Inorganic fillers include fiberglass, talc or mica.

Any natural polymer mixed with synthetic polymers is called a “biocomposite” plastic. In the manufacturing process, these ingredients are measured and calibrated in accordance with the desired stiffness, strength and density of the final plastic product. In addition to packaging, manufacturers use these bioplastics to make furniture, automotive panels, building materials and biodegradable bags.

A polypropylene composite reinforced with natural hemp fibers demonstrates that the tensile strength of hemp is similar to that of conventional fiberglass composites. In addition, blended polypropylene composites enriched with hemp fibers significantly improve load resistance compared to conventional fiberglass composites.

Pure organic hemp bioplastics

Several bioplastics have been created exclusively from natural plant substances that are part of industrial hemp. Plant fibers, when alkalized with dilute sodium hydroxide at low concentrations, exhibit excellent tensile strength. In addition, they produce materials from polylactic acid enriched with hemp fibers. These biocomposite materials showed superior strength than those containing only polylactide. For packaging in harsh conditions, manufacturers use hemp fibers reinforced with biopolyhydroxybutyrate, which are also quite durable.

Fossil fuel-based plastic polymers are non-renewable, highly polluting, and dangerous to ecosystems because of their long decomposition times. They are one of the most destructive inventions of man, but, fortunately, can be replaced with biocomposite materials, primarily on hemp basis. Hemp industry in economically developed countries is on the rise and most likely hemp packaging will soon occupy a significant part of the global packaging sector. Political, economic, and environmental incentives for manufacturing companies are pushing for hemp biocomposite materials everywhere. The lower cost of production compared to similar plastics made from fossil raw materials also attracts attention. Consumers and agribusiness are following the lead of industrialists, opting for environmental concerns.

Commentary by the Ukrainian Technical Hemp Association

Studies by individual consulting companies suggest that by 2030, up to 40% of the plastics industry will use vegetable components as raw materials, and a significant proportion of them will be products made from hemp raw materials. In economically developed countries, the understanding has ripened that the future of packaging is ready for the capitalization of technologies based on the benefits of hemp.

Обучение в рамках "Конопляного Университета"
13.10.2020

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