Those within the cannabis industry have long hailed the healing powers of plants, specifically marijuana, and increasingly psilocybin. But how can the industry claim to love plants and yet rely so heavily on plastic?

As a budding industry, cannabis enthusiasts should be fighting to create a healthier environment for their favorite plants to thrive.

However, the industry is a huge culprit when it comes to waste. It’s time to address the cannabis industry’s aggressive use of plastic. 

For those who are new to cannabis, they might be surprised to come back from a dispensary and face the time-consuming process of unpacking their products as if they’re assembling Ikea furniture. 

The clunky layers upon layers of plastic, from boxes to containers, were made to be hard to open due to strict state packaging laws. 

As Curaleaf’s director of purchasing Jed McWhorter explained to Healthline, “Unfortunately, many state packaging requirements lead to a lot of single-use plastics within the industry. For example, many states require child-resistant packaging, which requires an additional layer of plastic packaging across the supply chain.”

Single-use plastic is made of petrochemicals.

 As its name denotes, it was designed to be discarded after use, similar to plastic silverware, grocery bags, candy wrappers, etc. 

Single-use plastic is harmful in that it’s hard to recycle and its one-time use before being thrown away goes directly to our landfills, which quickly adds up to a lot of waste. 

In fact, according to a study conducted by Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society, we’ve only recycled 9% of the 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste accumulated by the world since the middle of the last century. 

Thankfully, cannabis companies are already creating innovative solutions to use less plastic in their packaging. 

Innovative Ideas Cultivate Sustainable Solutions

Cole Gibbs is the founder and CEO of Dama Distributing, a Colorado-based company making the world’s first 100% hemp-derived bioplastic. 

“We specialize in truly sustainable, child-resistant packaging for the cannabis and hemp industries,” said Gibbs. “We don’t use any petroleum plastics. We work with hemp plastic and hemp paper, hemp fabric. We’re trying to be that one-stop shop for anybody in the industry really looking for truly sustainable packaging solutions.”

Gibbs emphasized education, noting that the public should be informed about alternative products and materials.

He urged consumers to understand what products are made of and how to properly dispose of those products. 

Packaging isn’t just confined to the cannabis industry, hemp could be the future, from the clothes we wear to the beverages we consume.

 Wouldn’t you love to buy a refreshing Coca-Cola product and enjoy it from a bottle made of hemp?

“Really, every industry needs some sort of packaging. And if we can provide a truly sustainable alternative for a lot of the single-use plastic packaging, that is really our goal. We want to eliminate as much of this problem as we possibly can by providing not only solutions but providing raw material that all of these bigger companies, the CPGs like Nestle and Coke and those guys and Procter & Gamble, and actually offering their customers an alternative solution as well,” said Gibbs. 

Plant-Based Packaging 

Cannabis & Tech Today spoke with Anna Addison and Calvin Landrum, co-founders of Advocates for Cannabis (AFC) at the NoCo Hemp Expo. AFC was created to help solve the health epidemic affecting the Veteran community through education, consumer trust, and global outreach. 

AFC acknowledges that hemp is the future when it comes to packaging, and they want to redefine what luxury is when it comes to designing eye-catching packaging. They want to make hemp sexy again. 

“We’re starting to work on making all our glass, cGMP or package vapors sustainable, but now we’re moving into even more sustainable packaging. Our new capsules packaging foam is grown from mushrooms instead of using a plastic foam, so it’s packaging that’s grown in four days that encapsulates our capsules,” said Addison. 

Their company is also utilizing hemp fiber for insulation and has plans to move to 100%  hemp to be as sustainable as possible.

The cannabis industry doesn’t just have a plastic problem, the world has a plastic problem. But industry leaders and consumers can do their part to make a positive impact on the planet. 

Like Addison stated, education is going to break down prohibition laws and decrease the plant’s negative stigma. 

It’s important to be informed of just how much toxic material the cannabis industry is adding to the world’s already staggering amount of waste. 

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