Troy University’s Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences and the National Hemp Growers Cooperative have officially joined forces to further research the development of biodegradable plastics by using hemp fibers.
Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University, and Nick Walters, Managing Partner of the NHGC, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Troy Campus Thursday morning.
“When you think about the advantage of hemp-based bioplastic, it makes for a better environment. It’s biodegradable, it’s a renewable resource and it’s tough. Not only is it good for the economy, but it’s also good for our world,” Chancellor Hawkins said. “This is a step in a major initiative that will grow this University in an exciting new way. We look forward to what the National Hemp Growers Cooperative can mean to this partnership.”
In addition to research and development, the goal of the partnership is to foster academic exchanges with other regional universities and to facilitate partnerships with regional industries.
“The use of bio-based plastics is full of potential, in particular for the US automotive industry. Industrial hemp is already proven to be an excellent source for bio-based plastics, but we need to create even more uses by blending with recyclable plastics,” Walters said. “We can think of no better partner than Troy University. This is the beginning of hopefully a long-lasting relationship as we work to create more market opportunities for our grower-members while developing biodegradable plastics.”
Under the umbrella of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center was established in 2018 with help from a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and has since received two additional grants from NIST totaling more than $5 million. Other areas of research include looking for ways to reduce medical waste through innovative techniques to recycle medical plastics including PPEs.
Dr. Steven Taylor, Dean of the College, said this partnership encompasses the goal of the Center: to offer solutions to real-world problems.
“It’s not so much about what the NHGC leadership needs, it’s what their members might need. Their goal is to try to help the farmers grow the product and have a market for the product, therefore they need products to make,” he said. “This also gives us the possibility of multiple partners, a place to start and branch out from. It’s the first step toward the Center having real connectivity outside of the University and may give us synergy beyond what projects we alone can generate.”
The National Hemp Growers Cooperative is a management company headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi that connects growers from across the United States. Members of the NHGC benefit from learning best practices in farming; seed purchasing; retirement benefits; crop insurance; selling bio-mass; drying houses; purchasing equipment; legal representation; marketing crops; lab testing; health and property/casualty insurance; and farm and project financing.