While it’s important for the legal cannabis industry to ensure patients have access to medicine, push for policy that removes the plant from the purview of law enforcement, and proactively address the harms of the drug war, there’s one area of social justice that directly impacts the lives of every human: protecting the environment.
From increased awareness of illegal trespass grows to the importance of sustainable farming practices and much more, cannabis business owners and operators must find a way to prioritize environmental sustainability while also building a viable industry. In this post, we explore why tackling plastic packaging and the waste from vape products is the first order of business.
The Plastic & E-Waste Problem
E-cigarettes and cannabis vaping have increased in popularity over the last decade. As a result, there’s an even greater burden on the environment with batteries, pods, and pens winding up in landfill and increasing the risk of ground and water contamination. Between China’s role as the epicenter of vape component manufacturing, and legal cannabis existing under state-led regulatory structures as opposed to federal legalization, there is no central recycling or other disposal program in place to help consumers understand how to properly dispose of e-waste.
At the same time, legal markets mandating the use of single-use, child-resistant, and other protective packaging in addition to exit bags at retail has contributed to the industry’s continued reliance upon plastic, despite the rampant pollution it causes.
These realities underscore the critical need for the industry to seek out innovative solutions that balance legal compliance with environmental sustainability. Companies have started sourcing other materials for their packaging designs including glass, hemp, and even plastic removed from the ocean. On the retail side, some stores have activated loyalty programs to encourage customers to return packaging to the store for recycling. And individual jurisdictions have started educating consumers about what’s recyclable, reusable, or trash from their cannabis product packaging.
Driven in part by the coronavirus outbreak placing Chinese manufacturing on hold, cannabis companies are already looking to American sources for managing possible lapses in the supply chain. If adopted on a larger scale, with time, the move could ultimately shift vape manufacturing to the U.S., making it possible to create a system of domestic production in which setting and enforcing national guidelines for environmental sustainability will be the utmost priority.
Join us for many educational panels on these topics the upcoming Cannabis Business Summit in San Francisco, happening September 29 – October 1, 2020 at Moscone Center. The National Cannabis Industry Association started advocating for a responsible cannabis industry a decade ago, and in celebration of its 10th year, NCIA brings its business-to-business cannabis tradeshow to the birthplace of the medical cannabis movement. Cannabis business owners and operators won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet industry leaders, explore products and services to help grow their business, and learn the latest insights from the industry’s largest and most influential trade association. Reserve your space today – Registration is now open!