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HomeScienceHemp-based Biodegradable Material Aids in Tackling Global Microplastic Pollution Challenge.

Hemp-based Biodegradable Material Aids in Tackling Global Microplastic Pollution Challenge.


SEM cross-section images of the fracture surfaces of the tensile sample: (A) PBFSu40 without hemp; (b) PBFSu40 with 10 wt% hemp; (c) PBFSe40 without cannabinoids; (D) PBFSe40 at 10 wt% of hemp. The red arrows indicate the regions in the composite polymer samples containing hemp fibers. credit: Journal of Polymer Science (2023). DOI: 10.1002/pol.20230060

Plastic is cheap, light, and recyclable, making it an easy packaging choice when it comes to food and cosmetics. But it’s also potentially toxic and biologically harmful, making it the start of many environmentally responsible and socially conscious companies in Canada and around the world.

Western Chemistry Professor Elizabeth Gillis, Mechanical and Materials Engineering Professor Aaron Price and their research teams worked with industry partner CTK Bio Canada to develop a new biodegradable, hemp-based material that could be a sustainable alternative for the packaging needs of a wide range of products.

“When it comes to packaging, plastic is replacing things like metal and glass. Those things are heavy and expensive,” said Gillis, who is also Canada’s president of research in polymeric biomaterials. “Glass recycling is not a very profitable business and although many plastics can be recycled, in practice it often does not happen.”

This lack of recycling, exacerbated by the global microplastics pollution crisis, led Gillis and her team to create biodegradable “plastic” to solve the problem, or in this case, a hemp-based product.

Hemp is a sustainable agricultural crop that requires minimal resources to grow. It’s also a waste product of Canada’s ever-growing hemp industry, making it a free resource that would otherwise go to the compost pile or landfill. These reasons alone make hemp a suitable candidate, but its structural makeup makes it a clear winner.

“Depending on the shape, hemp can have a fibrous structure, which works perfectly as a material reinforcement,” said Gillis. “Hemp is basically stronger and more resilient than many other biostimulants.”

The aim of the project with CTK Bio was to find an agent for widely used industrial plastics such as high-density polyethylene pellets, which could be fed directly into the same manufacturing process currently used to produce plastic packaging. Gillis and her collaborators used ground hemp stalk powder as a filler during the production of the packages.

While mechanical properties such as strength and elasticity do not quite match current packaging plastics, the new biomaterials approach the necessary qualities, depending on the application, and exhibit biodegradability, which is key.

In terms of cost, biomaterials are currently more expensive to produce than plastics, but companies are working to improve and lower prices, so costs are expected to come down in the coming years as these technologies improve.

The results of the study validate the potential of new hemp-based biomaterials as a plastic alternative and open the door for future industry collaborations and partnerships. This new biomaterial has been identified in a new study in Journal of Polymer Science.

more information:
Zhengyu Deng et al, Biobased compounds from poly(butylene furanoate) and cannabinoid copolymers, Journal of Polymer Science (2023). DOI: 10.1002/pol.20230060

Provided by the University of Western Ontario

the quote: New Hemp-Based Biomaterial to Help Global Microplastic Pollution Crisis (2023, May 11) Retrieved May 11, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-hemp-based-biomaterial-global-microplastic -pollution. programming language

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