After Criticism, Pot Packaging Tries to Go Greener

Article by Cheryl Chan, Canada.com

After criticism, pot packaging tries to go greener Criticism has been levelled against cannabis producers for using excessive packaging. Now retailers say things are changing. CHERYL CHAN Customers show off their purchases upon leaving the B.C. Cannabis Store in Kamloops on Oct. 17, 2018, the first day that marijuana became legal in Canada. RICHARD LAM / PNG

Excessive packaging remains a problem one year after cannabis was legalized, but retailers say change is on the horizon.

Consumers criticized the often multi-layered and single-use packaging of plastic, paper and cardboard for even small quantities of weed.

Greenpeace Canada is also speaking out on what it says is a “missed opportunity” in the battle against plastics and single-use disposables.

“It’s unfortunate that the federal government and provinces are working together on a zero-waste strategy, but can’t create a better model for products they’re responsible for,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada’s head of oceans and plastics campaign. “They could have piloted a model that is more sustainable.”

Licensed producers are responsible for packaging, which has to follow Health Canada requirements, including being designed to show any signs of tampering, to be child-resistant and to prevent contamination and keep the product dry. The packages also have to be large enough to accommodate required labelling information, including the type of product, THC and CBD levels, and mandatory warnings.

B.C. retailers, which receive cannabis products already packaged from producers through the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, often bear the brunt of customers’ complaints about excessive packaging.

“They feel it’s completely crazy that this packaging is in our stores, and they get pretty upset, and we have nothing — we don’t have a great solution for them,” said Harrison Stoker, VP of brand and culture at the Donnelly Group, which operates three Hobo cannabis stores in B.C.

Retailers say that in the face of stringent federal regulations, and in the rush to market last year, licensed producers took the path of least resistance, defaulting to disposable plastics.

But now more producers are making an effort to use sustainable packaging, while still complying with the Cannabis Act.

“There’s some new manufacturers of more environmental-friendly substrates coming into the market,” said Stoker, noting packaging from suppliers from Colorado and California, where the recreational cannabis market is more mature, is starting to be used in B.C.

He also hopes that new products such as edibles, infusions and concentrates, which are to hit the legal market later this year, will have more sustainable packaging.

“We will see a change coming us as (licensed producers) start reacting more genuinely to public sentiment and this environmental snafu.”

Geoff Dear, president of Muse Cannabis, which operates a store in South Granville, said the packaging is evolving. Muse had been passing on consumer concerns to producers, which have been “receptive,” said Dear.

“Some vendors are improving on it. Every so often, you’ll see a product come in a new and improved packaging,” he said, citing B.C.-based Tantalus Labs as an example of a company using more “minimalist” packaging.

Most items in cannabis packaging are accepted in residential blue bin recycling programs, but not all.

Read the full article here.

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