Plastic has become the most visible pollution issue facing the world. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, now twice the size of Texas, is the subject of many environmental cleanup efforts while plastic waste from all over the world continues to pour into our oceans at an alarming rate. Governments around the world are now debating laws restricting plastic use, with many U.S. cities and states passing bans on single-use plastic bags and straws.
As the plastic problem rages on unabated, some companies are taking it upon themselves to come up with new solutions to tackle the issue. With the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, which legalized industrial hemp, a fresh look is being given to the versatile commodity for use in everyday items, including eco-friendly plastic. The Mind Unleashed caught up with three U.S. companies who have quietly embraced the use of hemp plastic into their business models, and their products have already hit the market.
1. Higher Hemp
Higher Hemp is a CBD dispensary that sells hemp-derived CBD products online nationwide and also offers free same-day delivery in San Diego county. They use hemp plastic packaging for many of their products including CBD flower, CBD joints and blunts, and CBD vape cartridges. Higher Hemp also uses sustainable packaging for their CBD oil and other products.
What makes Higher Hemp different from other CBD companies?
Co-founder Andrae Aldrete: “We place a lot of focus on convenience, transparency, and sustainability. Higher Hemp provides 3rd-party lab testing alongside all of the products we sell. We started out using hemp plastic for all of the products we possibly could, and we’re always looking for methods of operating where we can replace traditionally wasteful products and practices with those that are more responsibly and sustainably sourced. We seek to make CBD accessible and affordable to the masses while continuously reducing our carbon footprint by using plant-based, minimal packaging. Even the shrink wrap we use in the final sealing and packaging of our products is made from biodegradable bioplastic. We’re ok with sacrificing some aesthetic properties to prove there’s a way of doing business that’s better for our customers and the planet.”
Why does Higher Hemp use hemp plastic instead of regular plastic?
“One of the things that was non-negotiable from the start was that we weren’t going to go the traditional route of using excessive petroleum-based plastic to package our products. Hemp is the new plastic. To us, it’s unacceptable how much packaging of all types goes into even very small products in the cannabis industry and elsewhere. It’s a compounding problem both for our environment and our health when you consider that most of this plastic ends up in our oceans, polluting the food chain at every level. Considering we are selling and promoting products focused on wellness, we should also be focusing on the wellness of the planet as the health of both are correlated.
“Luckily, when we were starting out last year, we quickly found that there were already sustainable non-plastic solutions readily available. It’s a way of doing business that we believe is simply the right thing to do. The use of plant-based plastics will be the norm in the coming years and we’re happy to be one of the companies leading the way and hopefully we’ll influence others to do the same.”
You can check out their website at HigherHempCBD.com.
2. Sana Packaging
Sana Packaging launched the cannabis industry’s first 100% plant-based hemp plastic packaging solutions in July 2018, and in March 2019, Sana Packaging launched the cannabis industry’s first 100% reclaimed ocean plastic packaging solutions.
Why did you start Sana Packaging?
CEO and co-founder Ron Basak-Smith: “Our co-founder James Eichner and myself have lived in Colorado since 2011 and were really just disgruntled cannabis users looking at the amount of packaging waste coming from this industry. We thought we could make an impact in the cannabis space since it was such a new industry, whose norms were less developed, to create new packaging that would help move away from this disposable mindset, while creating practical products that would work for the industry.”
Do you think hemp plastic can compete with regular plastic on price/durability?
“It’s tough to compete on price because petroleum-based plastics are subsidized, but as advancements in technology continue, prices continue to drop for hemp plastic solutions. And as more companies embrace hemp and plant-based plastics, their accessibility will increase. On durability, we have to remember that we’re still at the early stages of development with hemp plastics. Just like early cars had to compete with horses, as the industry matures I believe hemp plastics will be able to compete against traditional plastic. Depending on how they’re made, yes, absolutely hemp plastics can be as strong as petroleum-based plastics. We just have to remember we’re still at the very beginning stage of development for viable plant-based plastics.”
Do you think more plastic products will be replaced by hemp in the future (such as plastic bags/straws)?
“Sana Packaging is currently focused on the cannabis industry because hemp plastic makes so much sense in this space. I think the idea here is that plant-based materials can definitely replace these products, it just depends on the consumers wanting to move forward with these options. We also have to consider our waste system because if we don’t have a way to process these plant-based products after they’ve been used, then we’re really doing an injustice to everyone and the environment.”
3. The Hemp Plastic Company
The Hemp Plastic Company produces biopolymer products made from renewable materials that are sustainable and, in some cases, compostable. Their unique process uses different hemp materials to create biopolymers that can be used in many facets of the plastics industry. They create the raw materials for manufacturers to create hemp-plastic products with.
Why did you create the Hemp Plastic Company?
Co-founder Kevin Tubbs: “It all started because a client came to me looking for hemp-based packaging for their hemp products. I have a background in developing eco-packaging and thought making packaging out of previously unusable hemp waste was a great idea. One client led to another, and suddenly people from all over the world became interested in what we were doing.”
Are you seeing demand rising?
“We’ve had a huge number of new customers looking for solutions in hemp plastic, and our customers are coming up with many new use-cases all the time. We supply the raw materials and customers are finding new uses to mold our hemp plastic into. We now have a library of fine hemp plastics including propylene, ethylene, ABS, and PLA.”
Where do you see the hemp plastic industry going?
“We’ve reduced plastic pollution down to a design decision. Designers need to buy into the idea of using hemp plastic and take another look at their designs to make sure they’re easy to degrade. Imagine Legos being made from hemp ABS! Consumers are also starting to think about packaging beyond single-use and what these containers can be re-used for after they’ve served their initial purpose. Some new products I’m excited about are hemp-based films we’re developing that could provide renewable options even for leather, and degrade 100% back into plant material.”