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Practicality of Bio-Degradable Pots

  1. Feb 21, 2012 #1
    Hey all,
    I have another horticulture question, this time concerning the practical use of bio-degradable pots. While plastic pots are very common and effective (due to the fact that they do not degrade, versatile options for shape/construction, ect.) yet they are petroleum based and with my focus towards sustainable/renewable Horticulture and Agriculture I am constantly trying to learn better ways to implement this into how we grow things. Bio-degradable pots are available (such as fiber pots made from coconut coir) yet the shelf life of them is relatively low, and cannot be reused for very long (if even after one season of use). I am wondering what naturally occurring fibers could be processed to a point to resemble the qualities of plastic (Long Shelf life/reusable).
    The first thing that came to my mind was hemp, due to it being one the strongest naturally occurring fibers on the planet, and its speculated ability to be made into bio-degradable plastics. It also has a tendency to be the most water resistant of the natural fibers (main cause of degradation in fiber pots), and not to mention it is generally very easy to grow. My questions would be the following:

    1) Is there a process already known to process hemp in a manner similar to what I am trying to obtain (If so what)?

    2)Would this process be to expensive/energy intensive for it to be applied towards practical use?

    3) Are there any other natural fibers that would be more suitable/ cost effective to try and create these bio-degradable pots?

    Note: I am NOT posting this to discuss the semantics of the legal status of Cannabis (whether it be for medicinal or textile use) and I am only interested in if the qualities of the hemp grade plant would be suitable for for use as a reliable/durable Bio-Degradable Plastic (e.g. UV resistant, water resistant, weather, ect.)
    I would greatly appreciate some input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2012 #2


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    Why not use rayon?
  4. Feb 22, 2012 #3
    That could work I suppose, I don't know if its been processed as a bio-plastic before, and it has some of beneficial properties for what Im looking for (UV, and water resistance), although from what i've researched it supposedly decomposes faster than cotton, so im not sure how it would hold up. Also another concern is that as far I understand how its make they use reprocessed cellulose mainly from trees which kind of cuts down on the sustainability focus im leaning towards (trees take a lot longer to grow than something like hemp). Also the manufacturing process seems to be fairly complicated although i admittedly don't know how it compares with the processes hemp has to undertake to make it into a bio-plastic.If I said anything misleading or wrong please correct me, and if there are any other suggestions please let me know!
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