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5 Surefire Ways We Can Make the Cannabis Industry More Eco-Friendly and Sustainable

The shift towards adopting pro-cannabis laws around the U.S. is great from a personal liberties standpoint. However, all of that packaging and producing has led to concern and much-needed discussion about eco-friendly and sustainability.

Jason SanderJason Sander · Sep. 11, 2020 · 6 min read
5 Surefire Ways We Can Make the Cannabis Industry More Eco-Friendly and Sustainable

The shift towards adopting pro-cannabis laws around the U.S. is great from a personal liberties standpoint. However, all of that packaging and producing has led to concern and much-needed discussion about eco-friendly and sustainability. Here’s how we can help make the cannabis industry greener.

Regulations Can Lead to Excessive Packaging

Regulations can be helpful within the cannabis industry to provide consumers with safer products, but sometimes maintaining compliance with these often heavy-handed regulations can lead to excessive packaging. The packaging is largely designed to prevent children from accessing it. In Seattle alone, this has been a massive problem in recent years. In 2018, the Washington Post ran a well-read story discussing how doob tubes and Mylar bags could be found floating in the Puget Sound near Seattle. The cannabis industry as a whole prides itself on being as green as possible.

Unfortunately, there are those looking to cash in on the green rush, coupled with regulation that causes too much packaging that leads to this garbage piling up. Estimates indicate that there will have been 1 billion pieces of trash generated from the cannabis industry, according to the above story. Of course, it’s highly irresponsible for consumers to throw any garbage in a body of water, but we assume you agree with us that this goes without saying. One Seattle dispensary noticed the problem and decided to do something about it.

1. Encourage Cannabis Packaging Recycling Programs

A dispensary called Canna West Seattle took notice of this massive problem and took a simple yet effective action to do their part. The program provides incentives for cannabis consumers who bring in their used packaging. What’s even better, is that the used packaged the dispensary will recycle doesn’t even have to be purchased there. The dispensary owner, Maryam Mirnateghi, told a local Seattle publication that she wants more dispensary owners to offer similar incentive programs to bring in used packaging.

She says that within the first few days of implementing their program, they gathered enough recyclables to fill a small closet. For each piece of recycling a customer brings in, they get points towards a purchase from the dispensary. This was two years ago - just one location in just one city. If more medical cannabis dispensaries and retail locations offered an incentive program like this, we could make a serious impact.

2. Support State Programs Businesses Who Work Together

We love it when a plan comes together! The craft beer and legal cannabis markets have been somewhat opposed, especially since alcohol consumption usually decreases in places where weed is legal. However, in Colorado this year, state lawmakers launched the Carbon Dioxide Reuse Project.

The program intends to help both sectors become more eco-friendly, improve their energy efficiency as well as reduce carbon emissions. Breweries who participated in the program earlier this year were a machine that captures the CO2 emitted during the beer-making process, then provides the dispensary with it, which can be used to help ensure the healthy growth of cannabis plants.

"Brewing a 120-barrel batch of beer produces enough carbon dioxide naturally through fermentation to fill a 500-pound vessel," said Charlie Berger, co-founder of Denver Beer Co. told the Denver Post.

It stands to reason that the growth of this program was likely slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the sentiment will always apply, and it’s another great eco-friendly idea we should all support and inform others about.


3. Promote Green Products and Packages

On top of the normal challenges businesses overcome to be successful, those in the cannabis space face additional hurdles remaining compliant with constantly changing regulations as far as packaging goes. Add to that child safety, durability, shelf appeal, quality control, and so on. It’s no surprise that sustainable packaging hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of the game plan of every business. Thankfully, many cannabis companies are using sustainable packaging

Actually, canna-businesses have a financial incentive to make their packaging sustainable and eco-friendly. Green packages can attract cannabis consumers, a demographic that tends to be more earth-conscious than those in other sectors. This overall sentiment of American consumers is changing as a whole. The extra investment in making packages more friendly to the environment can actually pay off with more sales. This is becoming increasingly more true for all industries, not just cannabis.

“Some 87% of American consumers also have more trust in and loyalty for companies perceived as environmentally sound,” according to Zack Darling of MG Retailer.

Here are just five examples of some amazing companies who are offering eco-friendly cannabis packaging options:

1. Nitrotin Nitrotin was formed in Canada, and now expanded into locations across the U.S. While canning, their system seals cans using nitrogen, which keeps flower fresher than it normally would be. Because the oxygen is blocked, it prevents buds inside from dying out faster, keeping them fresher for longer. Once used, the packages can all be recycled. Cultivators have access to most of their products throughout the U.S. The issue is that they cost more than the average jar for cannabis flower, but this is one way we can support sustainable businesses as consumers.

2. Sana Packaging Located in Denver, Sana produces packages that are 100% hemp-based, durable, and slick looking. As we outlined in our article on the brief history of cannabis prohibition in the U.S., hemp is much more environmentally friendly than many other industrial crops. It requires less water, it can help enrich the soil, is naturally insect repellant, meaning it requires fewer pesticides, and so on. And what better material to package cannabis flower, edibles, and concentrates than hemp? It’s a match made in heaven!

3. Elevate Compostable Options Elevate makes compostable clear bags, sticker labels, and opaque paper bags that are made entirely from 100% recycled material. The material decomposes in 6 months or less. The bags are easily sealed and are easy to open for patients with conditions like arthritis.

4. Packaging Naturally Packaging Naturally makes bio-composite resin jars that use a material that comes mostly from the earth. Their jars are food-grade meaning they can be used for edibles as well. And since their jars are lighter than the more common glass jars, this can help reduce the amount of fossil fuels it takes to ship them.

5. PAQcase PAQcases are child-proof pre-roll cases that are made from recycled and ocean-gathered plastics. All of their cases can be reused at least dozens, if not hundreds of times, and are accepted by just about every recycling center in the United States.

These are just five great examples of companies that are making environmentally-sound products for the cannabis industry. As we continue to evolve as consumers and demand more packaging like this, we should see an increase in products that come in packages like these. In the future, we will make a more exhaustive list of companies that make eco-friendly packages.

4. Follow These Eco-Friendly Checklist Questions

Want to help promote eco-friendly product packaging in the cannabis industry? As a consumer, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are their packaging materials naturally sourced, and are they biodegradable?
  • Can the materials be recycled?
  • How much energy is needed to recycle the packing materials?
  • Can packaging be used more than once?
  • Do the materials contain any added potentially harmful chemicals?

5. Urge Lawmakers to Shift Cannabis Policy

While it is great to see businesses that use eco-friendly packaging, a bigger immediate impact could be made if the laws surrounding cannabis packages were changed. For instance, lawmakers in British Columbia implemented a policy shift that allows dispensaries to sell cannabis products that come in containers that can be reused many times.

As election season is right around the corner, cannabis packaging is a hot-button issue that we should all pay attention to. The last thing we need is to add fuel to the fire of prohibitionists that still oppose cannabis legalization. And the excessive amount of trash from packaging - regardless of how much of it is due to heavy-handed regulation - is an argument they will continue to try to use to oppose legalization.

HashDash - Supporting Eco-Friendly Cannabis Solutions

We would love it if you could share some of these eco-friendly ideas with your fellow consumers. Did you enjoy our article on sustainability within the cannabis industry? If so, you will want to check back to our blog often, because we post fresh content every week! Connect with us on social media: @hashdash on all platforms.

HashDash is compiling an entire information database that will continue to answer your questions regarding all things cannabis as well as where to find the best products in your area. Be sure to sign up for HashDash to discover your cannabis matches if you haven’t already. As always, thanks for reading, and happy consuming!

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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