The first five years of legal cannabis in Canada has gone faster than a blunt at a Scarborough block party. In that time everyone in the industry made decisions with little precedent or experience. Now that we’re halfway through the first decade of legal weed in Canada, we need to dial into the changes these past 5 years have shown are needed.
Cannabis packaging has had bright spots and not-so-bright spots . Freshness and trichome saving packaging innovation has really improved. However, the “child proof” boxes, bags and tubes cause problems for adults with and without dexterity issues. To make it worse, these packages are adding to our country’s waste challenges. Many of our customers hand their products back to us to open for them once they’ve purchased it. I usually take a pair of scissors to the cannabis packages I buy for my own use. As a consumer I often wonder why there isn’t packaging made from hemp, creating a circular and sustainable experience?
The streets and parks around dispensaries can sometimes be littered with discarded cannabis packaging. All of Stok’d locations have recycling and waste receptacles outside and we still spend time everyday picking up around the stores. At a time when we need our neighbours’ support as we lobby for lowering taxes and reducing bureaucratic hula hoops, covering their sidewalks and parks with plastic and cardboard isn’t a great way to get them on board. We, as an industry and community, have to take a leadership role to ensure that our packaging and waste are sustainably disposed of. And better yet, contribute to the reversal of environmental trends in general!
The challenges that the legal cannabis industry face are similar to other industries when it comes to the environment. Everyone wants to live in a cleaner, more sustainable society but not many people are willing to lift a finger to do it. Some of this cynicism comes from generations of “greenwashing” by governments and corporations. For example, after decades of recycling all the materials we dutifully collected every week, we had no idea that most of our “recycling” was sent to the dump with the rest of the garbage.
There’s a level of personal and community accountability that we all need to take on if we are going to reverse the catastrophic predictions our planet is facing. Look, we know that creating better cannabis packaging won’t reverse climate change but I believe we have to start from where we are. Right now there are options for cannabis packaging recycling. And not just pretend recycling, there’s a company that is turning our dube tubes, ounce packages, edible jars etc into usable products!
Since Apr Stok’d, Qwest and [Re] Waste have been in a sustainable throuple 😂. [Re] Waste, founded by Corey Saban, has a box setup inside our shops that recycles (for real) all cannabis packaging. The “waste” is collected and repurposed by [Re] Waste into products like rolling trays and doob tubes. We are grateful that Qwest is our partner, allowing us to offset the cost of the program. For smaller, independent shops who might shy away from [Re] Waste’s cost of service, partnering up with your favourite supplier might be a win-win-win.
With an entire ecosystem in need of a lot of TLC we can’t go chasing waterfalls. We need to pick small, manageable goals and work together to meet them. We can keep an eye on the big goals but not so much we forget to fight the small battles.
Small wins create big wins.
Want to check out [Re] Waste for yourself and inquire about their great service? Click here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Over almost five-years as a cannabis leader, I’ve learned a thing or two about what I think will make this industry exit its growing pains, and take its place alongside other successful Canadian industries.
Even though I’m a good Canadian gal, I carry the grit and determination of my Italian heritage and my Toronto upbringing.
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