(TMU) — 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.”
(Disclosure: Higher Hemp is a sponsor of The Mind Unleashed.)
Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral
A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.
Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.
It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.
The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.
Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.
While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.
“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”
“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.
It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.
“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.
The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.
“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.
The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.
Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History
For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.
Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.
However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.
Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.
The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.
To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.
The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.
“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”
“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”
South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash
What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?
It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.
The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.
The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.
“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”
The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.
Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.
Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.