Hemp Amplifies The Output of Plastic Recycling Supply Chains

The recycling industry is currently booming. As the cost of virgin plastic shoots through the roof, the demand and price for recycled plastics are trending in the same direction. 

Even though the price of both virgin and recycled plastic is skyrocketing, companies are buying as much plastic raw material as they can get their hands on. 

Currently, there is a massive shortage of plastic in America which means suppliers that can get their hands on it are focused on distributing to their largest clients. Of course, plastics suppliers could suffer fatal consequences if they’re not filling the purchase orders of their big accounts. The decrease in supply and increase in price is starting to put the smaller plastics manufacturers on the back burner.

Unfortunately, currently, all raw material supply chains are pinched. Plastic, metal, wood, petroleum, minerals, and synthetic materials are all experiencing lower supply and higher pricing. 

This is opening up a massive opportunity for recycling supply chains across the world to step up to the plate to innovate and outcompete the virgin raw material supply chains. 

The marriage between industrial hemp and recycled plastics is one that will flourish for decades to come. The amount of volume that industrial hemp takes up in plastics can allow a recycling company to more than double the volume of their supply chain. This is because industrial hemp materials have a low bulk density.

Many manufacturers today are trying to reduce the amount of virgin plastic they use in the products they make. Most of our customers are seeking to use as much hemp and recycled plastic as possible to reduce the amount of virgin plastic they’re using in each of their products. 

The plastic recycling supply chain has become foundational to raw materials that are used across manufacturing. By and large, there are 2 main types of plastics recycling:

  • Post-Industrial Resin (PIR) – This plastic is the extra waste that is trimmed off and reclaimed during the manufacturing process. 
  • Post-Consumer Resin (PCR) – This plastic is used by the consumer for its intended purpose, has reached its end of life, and is then tossed into a recycling bin.

Each of these types of recycled plastics is valued differently. 

  • Post-industrial is closer to virgin plastic than post-consumer because it is processed less.
  • Post-consumer is also a lot more expensive because there is less supply and requires more processing to be reusable.

This means that post-consumer resin requires a lot more touching and processing. Recycling post-consumer resin has become a complicated process of collecting, separating, cleaning, milling, melting, and compounding. 

What most people don’t realize is that most of the plastics recycling supply chain (80%+) consists of post-industrial resin. Only a small fraction (10-20%) is post-consumer resin.

Some recyclers focus specifically on post-consumer resins, and others focus only on post-industrial resins. There are even recycling companies that focus specifically on ocean plastics or on creating circular economies of plastic within large organizations. Plastic recycling has now become a booming industry; it’s no longer about just collecting empty water bottles. 

Most of the plastic recycling companies out there are regional; they collect and supply plastic in a local geographic region. Of course, there are a few national and international recyclers, and we have partnered with a few of them. We’re working with many different types of plastics recyclers that are looking at our industrial hemp supply chain as an opportunity to amplify their supply of recycled materials by orders of magnitude. 

Since the cost of industrial hemp is lower than the cost of both recycled and virgin plastic, the more hemp fillers added to a plastic, the cheaper it is. 

For the first time ever, plastics companies can access a hemp-based filler that reduces their cost while increasing their volume and strength.

One of the plastics recycling and compounding companies that Heartland is working with has some great results working with hemp hurd as a volume filler replacement to talc.

Right now, they are compounding an 80% post-industrial recycled polypropylene with 20% hemp hurd. This compounded product has been built to replace a 20% talc-filled polypropylene. So far, they’re seeing a 15% increase in strength and a 10% decrease in weight.

Removing volume fillers like talc and calcium carbonate is what our industrial hemp supply chain is built around. We are engineering the right input format for plastics compounders and recyclers to easily mix our hemp materials with the plastic they’re using every day. 

With a reliable industrial hemp supply chain, recycling companies have the opportunity to become even more sustainable than ever. Over the next few years, the evolution into hemp-based additives will become more prevalent. Industrial hemp and recycled plastics will lay a sustainable foundation for the raw materials that manufacturers will utilize for decades to come. 

Plastic recycling supply chains are only getting larger as time goes on. It’s the plastics companies that start today that will be miles ahead of the competition a few years down the road. 

Heartland has the opportunity to work with recycling companies to create performance, cost, and sustainability benefits for the products manufactured across industries. 

Join us as we build a world out of hemp.

–Heartland Team

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