Article by Solomon Israel, Leaf News
Canada’s legal cannabis industry is starting to come to grips with its waste problem: an avalanche of pot packaging that’s good at meeting regulatory demands, but tricky to recycle.
Federal cannabis regulations don’t directly tell producers what materials to use in their packaging, but they do require marijuana containers be opaque or semitransparent, guard against contamination, keep cannabis bud dry, and keep children out. Those requirements make it hard to use biodegradable packaging options, according to Dan Sutton, chief executive officer of Tantalus Labs.
“The first step is certainly nationwide recycling programs, which will make the waste cycle similar to beverage products we consume every day,” he wrote by email.
Cannabis industry colossus Canopy Growth Corp. is underwriting such a container recycling program through its Tweed retail brand. The program is administered by New Jersey-based company TerraCycle, and accepts containers collected by any licensed cannabis retailer in Canada, whether or not they’re affiliated with Canopy Growth. Individual consumers can also mail used weed vessels directly to TerraCycle for recycling.
Canada’s cannabis containers tend to use what TerraCycle’s director of brand partnerships, Gina Herrera, described as “complex plastics,” which are harder to process than the polyethylene terephtalate and high-density polyethelene often used in consumer goods packaging.
TerraCycle and its subcontractors will take those containers, clean them, and melt them down into plastic pellets, which can then be manufactured into new products. (Herrera gave the examples of picnic tables or park benches, which would usually be made of “virgin” plastic. TerraCycle can also process other materials used in Canadian cannabis packaging, such as metal and foil, she said.)