There was a time when plastic was heralded as the “way of the future” and now that we’re sitting on about 8.3 billion metric tons of it – the future seems a bit, “too plastic-y” for many. Especially with the floating “plastic island” in the pacific.
Today, there is a strong current of business trends where “plastic neutral” or “plastic negative” concepts are being tested and integrated into existing markets. One of these new emerging markets is the cannabis and hemp trade – and due to its unique status as a legal good in many places – can be a great consumer of plastics.
Some Hawaiian based cannabis businesses are trying to change that by going “plastic negative.” In essence, the idea behind this concept is that business aims to remove more plastic from the environment than it uses.
While this concept is still in “beta-phase”, there is a unique opportunity for cannabis businesses to adopt this trend. In fact, with the right kind of entrepreneurial mind – utilizing hemp packaging as a replacement for plastic just seems like the right idea.
Why the cannabis industry uses so much plastic
After all, aren’t we just selling plant? Well – yes we are, except this is heavily scrutinized by regulators meaning it requires “extra packaging”. This means more plastic, more waste. Furthermore, anything that touches cannabis is considered “medical waste” in many places – meaning that a lot of what could get upcycled simply goes to a landfill.
This is a shame since cannabis is poised to become one of the biggest international markets in the next 10 years. If we could manage to let the cannabis industry adopt these kinds of practices early on – we could have a real chance of creating more sustainable commerce for the future.
Why not use Hemp?
Hemp has only been officially unleashed in the US since 2018. Currently, a large portion of the hemp is being purchased by CBD companies who are turning it into an array of ointments, salves, oils and tinctures.
Then, there’s also the farming community who have long been using hemp for animal beddings, feed, rope and a host of other products like that as well.
For the most part – plastic was responsible for supplying the demand for plastic. But with plastic becoming ever more unpopular – perhaps it’s time to start using Hemp instead?
Well – the biggest issue with turning a crop into our “plastic maker” is that it takes away from our ability to grow food and other resources. We use a lot of plastic and the problem isn’t our use of plastic – it’s how we dispose or reuse it.
Think about it this way – plastic is a technology that most of us discard. It’s energy, it’s money poured into this little versatile thing and we simply toss it into a hole in the ground.
The problem is not about using hemp for plastic – while it could be a good idea to a small degree, the idea is “how to we better discard and reuse perfectly functional technology”.
Humans and their waste problems…
This is an important point that we need to make. The problem isn’t that we are using plastic – it’s that we don’t have the right protocols for efficiently disposing of it once used.
This is a perfect example of implementing a technology and not seeing the unforeseen consequences. In the case of plastic – about 100 years ago it was considered the greatest scientific advancement – except, with a lack of foresight, they never considered recycling.
It took years of simply tossing plastics everywhere until we realized – “oh shit, it doesn’t biodegrade!” And by then our turtles were caught in six-pack rings and a small plastic continent was forming in the pacific!
Once again, this is ignorance at play. While the notion of hemp plastics sounds like an ideal solution to the problem of plastic – it doesn’t deal with the problem of waste.
If you give humans the ability to throw away plastic carefree – they will simply increase the instances of doing so. This means the will place a heavier demand on hemp-based plastics and before you know it, we’re only growing hemp for plastic.
No friends – the issue here is about a societal upgrade. Going plastic negative is a great way to foster a culture of environmental awareness. Cannabis companies are currently some of the most lucrative in the world – it would be excellent to see them pushing together for more environmentally sound practices such as going plastic-negative or switching to reusable energy sources.
While making money is still a goal for business owners, we need to understand that the wellness of the planet is what allows us to make money in the first place. If we don’t include environmental damages as part of our “costs” then we’re fucked even if we switch to hemp plastics.
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