Eco-friendly materials ready to replace everything, Waikato University professor says

Submitted by Norm on Sun, 10/15/2017 - 09:04

"We want to grow hemp - as far as the composite goes, there are a lot of applications there. Anything with glass fibre in it, we could be replacing that."

Glass fibres are thin, silica fibre strands that insulation materials such as Pink Batts are made out of. 

It would be easy to replace plastic in sports equipment, too - Pickering has a skateboard in her office that a fourth-year student made out hemp. 

"What's stopping us now? The technology is there." 

The stumbling block is money - the products are not commercially viable.

Companies have been interested, but nobody has taken the leap yet. 

"It is difficult getting that buy-in, because there is that cost associated with it.

"Natural fibre can be produced more cheaply than glass fibre."

The end cost wouldn't be much different, Pickering said. But until it is mass produced it will be more expensive.