New research reported in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces examined the potential to use hemp as a bioplastic. Hemp could potentially provide sustainable, economic manufacturing material for everything from medical device parts to food wrappers. Researchers from Purdue University and University of Connecticut collaborated to create a CBD-based bioplastic material as part of the study. In order to find out if a bioplastic could be made out of hemp, the research team synthesized two polyesters from the condensation of one of two specific cannabinoids formulations: cannabidiol (CBD) or cannabigerol (CBG) with adipoyl chloride and formed a semi-crystalline material.
Bioplastic is a polylactic acid (PLA) often used for sustainable plastics and it is often used in single use consumer goods such as bottles, containers, and devices. CBD has a chemical structure that is optimal to be repeated as a polymer. To create and manipulate cannabinoid polymers, the researchers performed a condensation reaction with adipoyl chloride and either CBD or CBG.
The researchers found that the polymers’ bioactive properties for neither CBD nor CBG polyesters was cytotoxic. The CBD polyester has an antioxidant activity. Although this polymer version of CBD does not have the same therapeutic effects as CBD in oil form, the researchers believe that future versions of the plastic could be engineered to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Hemp has minimal or no tetrahydrocannabinol that causes a psychoactive feeling, but it offers many beneficial compounds and its durable, versatile fibrous parts can be used for many other applications. Now that it is federally legal in the U.S. to grow hemp, the pharmaceutical and other industries are exploring bioplastic applications such as packaging and product parts. Hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly bioplastic materials, since it sequesters carbon dioxide, requires low cultivation input and output, and can be recycled. This study suggested that hemp has many potential bioplastic applications in industries such as health care, construction, and hospitality.