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Hemp Plastics + Alberta Hemp Farm Co-op

Hemp based plastics are easily recycled and biodegrade, a farm co-op would help Alberta hemp farm start ups to make raw materials abundant

Photo of Heather L. Morigeau
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I seek to start a hemp farm co-op in Alberta which rents the specialized planting and harvesting equipment to start-up hemp farmers, to make hemp farming more accessible.

The co-op will also help farmers find appropriate locations to sell various parts of the plant for various applications.

(High grade hemp seed for food and oils, low grade hemp seed for plastic and motor oils)

The Alberta based co-op will seek to replace the tar-sands, oil-hungry reputation we are currently globally know for, by creating a massive influx of hemp based products which will replace petroleum oil based products

If selected I will use this grant to focus skilled researchers into finding funding and launching this co-op, with the guidance of co-ops in other provinces and drawing from experience of previous co-ops which have failed to flourish in Alberta and successful farming co-ops for other crops such as wheat

I will also seek to work with the First Nations farmers to teach cultivation of the land and help their communities establish more sustainable industries  

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

Hemp plastic is non-toxic and biodegradable, global companies already create hemp plastic for everything from car parts to water bottles. There is no shortage of applications and recycling is much more simple. The obstacle is farming the hemp - many farmers would like to grow hemp fields but once they overcome the legal stipulations and acquire licenses, the harvesting equipment is expensive and specialized. More hemp crops means less expensive plastics for small format applications.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

I feel hemp plastic acts as a support to all the cases, as it will transform the products presented into hemp based plastics and create new opportunities if farming, manufacturing, sales, recycling and removes the obstacles of waste which impede all the cases and personas listed above.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Currently there are Canadian based co-ops for hemp, however the worker/owner model concept I have designed using permaculture ethics will make hemp farming more accessible to all Albertans, Canadians and First Nations Tribes and seeks to reshape the current oil based economy. Inspiring the global hemp farming industry to be interested in replicating this model A primary obstacle of the co-op is the farmer to legal skills gap which must be bridged by specialized workers who are expensive.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Goals (measure) * find funding for hemp co-op, which has been difficult as it is counter culture to Alberta oil industry (apply funding to hiring co-op developer to access further funding) * make hemp farming accessible (increase sustainable farms + shared harvest equipment) * Make hemp plastic cheaper with more raw materials (influx of hemp into market, market price trends) * Create new hemp oil/plastic economy in Alberta to replace the failing oil economy (create jobs in hemp sector)

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

I am a 7th generation Metis Canadian, I am a designer, activist and visionary I seek to support the movement away from fossil fuel dependence by making alternatives easier to access. Farming friends of mine who have attempted hemp crops have not been successful because they lacked the necessary support and equipment for harvest and sale. I'm supporting the urban agriculture movement with permaculture yard design and see that conventional food farming techniques are no longer sustainable.

Tell us about your work experience

For 13 years I have been a professional goldsmith and designer of fine jewellery. In 2015 the gold king mine disaster prompted me to retrain and I am now a Certified Permaculture Designer.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

A co-op developer costs $20k to build the legal foundation and seek out grant exchanges for incorporation, it will be a worker owned co-op.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Heather,

It is great to see you in the challenge.

Which use cases could this be used for - ? Could the hemp be used for a new packaging design that reduces the use of material used in these use cases or make it easier for collection for reuse?

I can see a connection to this idea - Feeding Sustainable Local Designs into Global Distribution Chains 

Photo of Heather L. Morigeau

In many if cases the case issues listed is non-recyclable due to the small scale (peel off lids)
While it is possible to make the containers from a type of hemp plastic which is biodegradable within a small window of time after use, hemp plastic can also be made mailable and stick to its self and be balled up to make it easier for collection for recycling - think of an aluminum foil ball at a metal recycling centre for cash, instead of a single sheet of used aluminum foil going onto the recycling bin.