What’s New in Sustainable Cannabis Packaging? 

If being more sustainable was at the top of your New Year’s resolution list this year, achieving that goal could be a bit daunting when buying cannabis at a dispensary. Breaking through the layers of plastic when opening your favorite edibles or flower is not only time-consuming, it’s wasteful. The non-recyclable material, extraneous labeling, and paper waste all come at a heavy cost to the environment. 

Cannabis could save the world, but if each company doesn’t do their part to focus on sustainability, then this industry could diminish all of the benefits that the plant brings. Let’s take a look at a few companies striving to create a greener future. 

Cole Gibbs, Founder and CEO of Dama Distributing

Colorado-based Dama Distributing develops sustainable, home-compostable, plant-based packaging for a variety of industries, including cannabis. Dama creates its child-resistant packaging products using recyclable materials, such as glass, bamboo, and hemp plastics. 

“The child resistant (CR) packaging side of things is kind of the biggest hurdle, more than anything. We don’t necessarily need CR packaging for every single cannabis product.

“So that makes it very difficult, especially when you get into dry flower and all the new drinks that are coming out and making those CR.

“Also, making it out of a sustainable package as well is kind of difficult.

“So luckily they’ve eliminated all these exit bag rules and double packaging rules and even implemented some new sustainability laws in several states, which allow consumers to take back their cannabis packaging to the dispensary.

“And that can either be washed or sanitized and reused or shredded and turned back into a multi-use item like a rolling tray or a Frisbee or anything of that nature. So, there are some great things moving in the cannabis industry, but I think due to the rules and regulations, the biggest thing more than anything else is labeling.

“Usually, you have a label for who produced it. You have another label of the company that’s selling it. Next, you have your compliance label when you actually sell the product at point of sale. So there’s a lot of labeling that goes into it.

“And a lot of those labels are produced via thermal print, which are not recyclable or compostable. So, I think eliminating a lot of this extra labeling and marking would help the sustainability aspect of the packaging as well.”

Bill Ludlow, Founder, President, and CEO of Crativ Packaging 

Crativ offers packaging solutions for the cannabis industry focused on durability, science, compliance, and sustainability. Crativ uses recycled plastic, chemical-free recycled foam in its inserts, and owns its own supply chain, which decreases the company’s carbon footprint. 

“Research shows that 80% of littering is intentional and performed by individuals, that’s you and me, that’s us, that’s the consumer. We have to take control, we have to be a part of the solution. Should we ban plastics to protect ourselves from the idiots that we are? It’s not the answer. 

“If we were to ban plastics and replace them with today’s alternatives, such as glass, paper, and aluminum, the amount of materials required, energy required, and resulting CO2 emissions would explode… So, be critical about plastic, but don’t go blindly to war on plastic, just because they’re the most visibly littered material. The answer is you.

“We’ve all got to come together, we must focus on how to keep plastics in the materials loop, you have the power, you are the consumer, you can drive the market to sustainability if we do it together. Check your facts, be a hero, not a hater.”

Erica Halverson, Founder and CEO of Tiny E Paper Company 

Tiny E Paper Company produces 100% pure hemp paper made out of hemp stalks and pre- and post-extraction waste from CBD. 

“We make hemp paper specifically for business owners within the cannabis industry, with the goal to get the entire industry to use hemp paper for all their packaging, labeling, B2B paper, to stop using trees and switch over to hemp.

“Sustainability is what my company is all about, and I want to be a model and make the cannabis industry a model to every other industry of what sustainability actually means.

“I don’t go through the day without saying [sustainability] at least 20 times. It is my entire business model, it is the entire model. I’ve always said this from the start, I am on a hemp movement.

“This is about more than paper. My sustainability message comes from the fact that I have so many different ways that, by just making paper, I am able to sustain a lot of different aspects of the cannabis industry.

“Number one is sustaining our farmers. I’m going to need as much raw material as possible because I’m creating all my paper on a commercial scale. I need as much CBD waste as I can get. This is the fastest growing segment of the fastest growing industry in the world, and they need a place for their garbage to go. Well, guess what? I’m a place for that.

“We have a really awesome opportunity and responsibility right now, and we cannot squander that by doing it the wrong way. We have a chance to really be a model for the world right now in what sustainability means, and what it means in practice, rather than just saying it.

“If we don’t do this the right way, and understand how we can make each other better in that process, then we are probably going to fail.”

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