Hemp Bioplastics on Horizon, Pioneer Says
By Jean Lotus
An Australian-based hemp pioneer who has spent 25 years in the hemp food and CBD businesses has branched out into hemp bioplastics with a US partnership.
Paul Benhaim, a British expat, has created companies around hemp since 1993, from nutrition to medicine to industrial materials – and now including hemp plastic.
Benhaim is founder of Hemp Foods Australia and the Elixinol Wellness. He has moved into the bioplastics space with The Hemp Plastic Company, creating hemp plastic resin from 100% bio materials, manufactured in the United States.
“Plastics, paper and building will grow the hemp industry in its next stages – whilst full-spectrum hemp derived CBD gains the stability that hemp foods has enjoyed now over time,” Benhaim told Let’s Talk Hemp in an email.
While confidentiality agreements keep the details vague for now, The Hemp Plastic Company, headquartered in Boulder, CO, is working with “more than 20 multinational Tier 1 companies in industries varying from automotive, building, consumer, clothing to white goods, restaurant chains and much more,” Benhaim said.
“The Hemp Plastic Company is now shipping full containers of hemp plastics not only in the USA, but to various international locations,” Benhaim said.
Hemp Plastic Co’s new composite works well with standard machinery like injection molding and current processes used for petroleum-based plastics, and the feedstock is composed of hemp waste material from other industries, Benhaim told Let’s Talk Hemp last year. The cost is less than petrochemical-derived plastics.
“We can literally use any waste material from any hemp processing [which] exists in all parts of the industry, food, medicine, fiber. We prefer waste products because we like to create zero waste in any industry,” Benhaim told host Morris Beegle on the Volume Up Hemp Podcast.
Benhaim is the author of nine books about hemp, including H.E.M.P. – Healthy Eating Made Possible, Growing Hemp For Profit, Building A House From Hemp, Hemp Body Care Guide, Hemp Plastic Industry and Modern Introduction To Hemp.
Benhaim started his hemping journey by creating a hemp seed health food bar in Europe in the early 1990s which offered an ideal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. That hemp snack bar was a success, now selling multi-millions of hemp bars per year under numerous labels internationally.
Benhaim came to Australia in 1999 to help legalize hemp seed foods in the land of Oz, a task that took 17 years of lobbying. Meanwhile, he launched Hemp Foods Australia, a vertically integrated hemp business that grows hemp and creates snacks and plant-based protein ingredients. Hemp Foods Australia has become the largest hemp foods manufacturer and distributor in the southern hemisphere.
“Slow and steady wins the race,” Benhaim remarked.
Elixinol is also launching new products for 2022, Benhaim said.
CBD still needs a regulatory path to US acceptance as an ingredient in food/beverages and dietary supplements, which will come from US Food and Drug Administration approval.
“FDA approval will lead to greater accessibility in the mainstream retail for hemp, CBD and similar compounds — allowing more people to benefit from the goodness that hemp now offers to millions of people worldwide on a daily basis,” Benhaim said.
He is heartened by hemp’s path to acceptance as a building material in the International Residential Code. Australia’s national building code already includes hempcrete.
“Regulatory changes for using hemp as a building material has started to “hempen” recently in the USA, and I look forward to seeing this expand in width and breadth,” Benhaim said.
Benhaim has been a hemp evangelist since his youth, and his companies have pushed the plant’s many uses forward into the mainstream. In decades of promoting hemp, Benhaim has moved the needle forward and blazed a path that made it easier for other hempreneurs to follow.
Benhaim sees his legacy as a world abundant with, “sustainable, waste-free plant based products that are good for you and your family instead of the petrochemical-based pollutants harming all living things,” he said. His goal: “That we may live in harmony with nature to thrive and be happy.”
Paul Benhaim will be featured as keynote speaker at the 4th Annual Southern Hemp Expo (SHE4) in Nashville, TN on August 18-20, 2022.
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Jean Lotus is a Colorado-based award-winning journalist and hempreneur who writes about the American West and sustainable food and technologies.