The movement against toxic materials has been gaining momentum over the past few years. The problem is, companies are stuck using the same raw materials that they’ve been using for decades.
One thing that has become foundational to all raw materials and end products are additives called fillers. Different fillers give end products certain performance properties. But, most importantly to manufacturers, fillers reduce the cost of goods sold. Using fillers is one of the main ways that manufacturers can increase their margins.
There are dozens of different commonly used fillers. But, one of the main fillers that have prevailed over the years is a mineral called talc.
Talc is an additive that’s used in many raw materials, including papers, plastics, paints, rubbers, foods, chalks, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and ceramics. This is what helps keep the costs of these materials as low as possible.
Talc has been the main driver of low-cost plastic for decades. But there are always drawbacks. Typically, the lower the cost, the lower the quality. Talc has been the low-cost, low-quality solution to market demands for reduced costs of goods.
High-quality goods have higher price points because they last longer. Over the years, this has been proven true for most product categories.
So, why all of a sudden is there a pushback against talc? Over the past decade or so, the world has come to realize that talc has a mineral fiber in it called asbestos. Asbestos can cause cancer and has a long history of controversy in the global court systems. In a 2014 study by the National Institute of Health, they found that in 1 gram of talc, there were between 1840 and 100,000+ asbestos fibers.
Just last year, Johnson & Johnson announced that they would stop using talc in their baby powder after more than 25,000 lawsuits had been filed by users who claimed that J&J’s baby powder had caused their cancer. In June of 2021, The Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear an appeal in a $2 Billion jury award against J&J. This is about half of the $3.9 Billion that they set aside for talc lawsuits over the past few years.
Talc is also commonly found in cosmetic products including lotions, eyeshadow, foundation, lipsticks, deodorants, and face masks. Talc is typically added to makeup to prevent caking, absorb moisture, soften products, and make the product opaque.
Asbestos has been found in the lymph nodes and lung tissue of women using cosmetics containing talc. It is known that inhaling talc particles can lead to a diseased respiratory tract which causes labored breathing and coughing. Over decades of research, talc has also been known to adversely affect the female genital system in many different ways.
If consumer grades of talc are adversely affecting humans in these ways, what does that mean about industrial grades of talc? Almost every plastic you touch contains talc, think about that.
Traditionally, the standards for consumer goods and industrial goods are different. If consumers are using a product, it is traditionally held to a higher standard. But, when it comes to industrial goods, those standards typically go out the window.
Since the 1800s, talc products have seen success in industrial markets. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the safety of talc was called into question.
Here are 3 main reasons why talc will go extinct over the next 10 years.
Talc and asbestos naturally occur near each other on the earth. This is why, when mined, raw talc frequently contains asbestos fibers. Part of the problem is that it is extremely difficult to separate talc from asbestos. This means that most talc products on the market have, at minimum, trace amounts of cancer-causing agents.
This, of course, is unsustainable.
As the world continues to move toward a more sustainable future, our business leaders are asking themselves what business practices and raw materials need to be reduced or removed. Naturally, talc is one of those materials.
The mining process, by nature, has a lot of things working against it
Each of these problems leads back to health issues for all the living things that surround us. This is just part of the reason why companies are looking to transition their raw material supply chains from mined goods to bio-based goods.
Heartland is using hemp materials to replace talc as an additive to plastics, foams, rubbers, and other raw materials. Our hemp materials will increase the performance and reduce the carbon footprint of talc-filled products that are manufactured every day.
The world is not just transitioning toward a more sustainable future, it’s transitioning toward a lighter-weight future. Since one of the main uses of talc is as a filler within other raw materials, we have to look at where those raw materials are used. Materials like plastics and rubbers are frequently used in the mobility sector, and talc is one of the key additives that large manufacturers rely upon.
But, one of the major movements in the mobility sector is a mandate called lightweighting. When the weight of a vehicle gets reduced, it improves performance and reduces carbon footprint. The lightweighting movement is going beyond cars, boats, and planes, and into busses, trailers, RV’s, and other forms of transportation and motorsport.
Hemp materials are 50-80%+ lighter than talc materials that are used as additives. This means that hemp can remove a significant amount of the weight of plastic just by swapping out the talc additive.
The weight of talc is what will prevent it from thriving in the manufacturing sector as companies move toward stronger and more lightweight materials.
As we previously mentioned, talc contains a carcinogenic mineral fiber called asbestos. This material has been linked to mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.
We have a responsibility as business leaders to not put our employees at risk of health complications, especially when it is easily avoidable. Using carcinogenic products in raw material supply chains was only acceptable when we didn’t have data.
But, over the past 50 years, global institutes have published reports that confirm how toxic talc and asbestos are to the human body. Now that the data has been confirmed time and time again, our business leaders need to turn toward more sustainable alternatives.
Hemp is a carbon-negative material that is used as a rotational crop to create more nutrient-rich soil for traditional row crop farmers, including corn, wheat, soy, and many more. Over thousands of years, the value of hemp has been proven through hundreds of applications across the globe. It has been used as rope on the Mayflower, as a textile to make the first American flag, and now as an additive to plastic to support global manufacturers.
As the world seeks more sustainable alternatives, consumers will continue to look at corporations to lead the way. Previously, the only way companies could become more sustainable was by using recycled materials or switching toward renewable energy. That was, until today.
Heartland has focused on building reliable supply chains of bio-based materials. Today, that is focused on using hemp and graphene as additives to increase the performance and reduce the carbon footprint of the products that are produced by manufacturers every day.
We all have an opportunity to help push our society toward a sustainable future. It is each of our responsibilities to choose manufacturers and leaders who believe that we each have a duty to remove the old and antiquated ways of doing things.
The world needs and deserves a sustainable future that we can all be proud of for decades to come. This is why removing mined, heavy, and carcinogenic materials like talc from global manufacturing will become increasingly important as we usher in a new age of sustainability.
Join us as we build a world out of hemp.
— Heartland Team
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