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You do not need to be a radical activist to know that our planet is grappling with environmental issues. Global warming is no longer a distant danger. Our environment is taking a beating from in many different forms such as acid rains and water pollution, urban sprawl, air pollution, and ozone layer depletion, climate change and so much more.
Sadly enough, the booming cannabis industry is now a considerable part of the problem. This is mostly due to the evident lack of knowledge and sometimes blatant disregard for laws and regulations. Some industry leaders and thinkers are now trying to address the issues in a bid to come up with long-lasting and sustainable solutions.
The State Of Global Pollution
Almost everyone uses plastic on a daily basis, and we wrap nearly everything we use in plastic bags. Most of the food we buy is carefully sealed in plastic containers and the cars we drive are made out of plastic.
Plastic, undoubtedly, comes with the benefits of weight reduction as well as ultimate safety and has such a high-cost efficiency. As a result, there are so many ways through which plastic finds its way in our lives.
The global media outlets are eagerly trying to raise public awareness. They broadcast numerous alarming reports on the ecological disasters caused by our plastic addiction. We have all seen those unappealing images of stranded mammals and seabirds that seem to have died because of having ingested plastics.
Plastic ban regulations on one-way packaging are progressively introduced in many countries, especially in the civilized world. As a matter of fact, major cities and developed countries now forbid the use of shopping bags, cups, straws etc.
Waste disposal is a major issue in our contemporary world. Myself for one and those who support Maryjane’s post have become more sensitive on the subject and authorities are now doing their best to improve various aspects of waste disposal and recycling management.
Cannabis Industry Waste Problem
There is no doubt about the fact that the cannabis industry is booming. Legalization occurs in more and more countries, the most recent of which was Canada on October 16, 2018. Current talks of Thailand soon legalizing marijuana is expected early 2019. The pot industry is regrettably part of the global ecologic problem. Dispensaries are using an incredible amount of single-use plastic bags.
A few of plastics used in this industry include; labels, wrappers, stickers, envelope, oil containers, bubble sheets, vape pens, et cetera. Weed has to be stored according to strict regulations. Most companies don’t have much choice as far as being compliant with the law is concerned, and they instead have to use plastic.
Most consumers don’t often bring their reusable bags to their favorite dispensaries. Imagine if you decide you want to try ten different varieties of weed; you’ll find yourself getting back home with ten different plastic bags.
Washington State Marijuana Waste
Washington State has been undoubtedly a leading example in the cannabis industry. In 2012, Washington became the first U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The state had previously legalized medical marijuana in 1998.
Under state law, cannabis is legal for medical purposes and for any purpose by adults over 21. However, Washington’s weed industry faces a major waste problem. The problem is a 1.7 million pounds problem. That has been the amount of the local industry waste since 2014.
A big part of the issue is the difficulty to track where this “problem” is dumped. State law requires growers to keep meticulous track of their waste, to the nearest gram! There is no legal obligation to track the destination of the waste.
A thorough investigation revealed that major industrial composting companies had collected a ridiculous amount of cannabis waste. This leads to the amount of 1.7 million pounds of compostable waste being sent to landfills.<
Marijuana Packing Laws And Regulation
Lawmakers are partly responsible for the plastic scourge inevitably caused by the cannabis industry. Packaging regulations require proper labeling as well as unit measurement, and child-resistant packaging.
The law requires that all herbs must be properly stored in child-proof containers with robust push-down-to-open lids sealed in plastic. However, those sealing are stockpiling in landfills, along with pre-weighted plastic bags and other non-recyclable goodies from local dispensaries.
The use of plastic to wrap up herb goods is purely economic. And second, most recycling facilities don’t accept cannabis packaging even if it’s recyclable. This is because cannabis isn’t federally legal. Cannabis waste is considered medical waste in many districts, the main reason being that grey water could find itself flushed down the sewer and be allegedly a potential hazard.
A Possible Solution to Cannabis waste
The marijuana industry has the creative potential to become part of the solution. A vast majority of people using recreational or medical cannabis care about the world they live in. Plastic use in dispensaries could be easily replaced by recyclable and reusable packaging options.
An even better idea is the use of hemp. Hemp has always been grown for fiber, extracted from the stem. Hemp is one of the leading renewable plant materials being explored and used to create bioplastics. This material has many of the same qualities as traditional plastics. And it’s perfectly eco-friendly.
Growing hemp has minimal impact on the environment as it is both restorative and regenerative. The use the plant is the basis of our interest. Composting should be used more by growers, and that should not be a problem at all as cannabis bi-products are entirely compostable.
Strange as it may sound, most growers don’t even know used soil and plant materials are compostable or recyclable. They use the soil once and dump it to landfills. Throwing this material into a landfill massively slows natural decomposition.
Micron Industry Example
Part of the solution will come from innovative biotech companies. Micron-Waste Technologies, based in Vancouver, in British Columbia, is currently testing a possible solution to the cannabis industry waste-management issue.
They entered a mutual agreement with a heavyweight Canadian company, Aurora-Cannabis Inc. Their latest development is an on-site processing facility that would transform organic waste into grey water. The direct result is non-drinkable water, but one that is free from chemical organisms.
The water is clean enough to dump down the drain. The operational cost of waste disposal is easily covered by the investment of an on-site processing facility like this one. This facility is able to process all possible kinds of organic materials, from soil to plant residues. And the resulting water can easily be used for non-potable applications.
In a nutshell, it can be easier to save the environment from further plastic degradation without harming the future of cannabis. Maryjane’s Post is a leading information platform for marijuana enthusiasts. Our mission is to change negative stereotypes that marijuana users face.
We also believe that sustainable waste management in the cannabis industry should be a core value shared along with the health benefits of cannabis. It starts by growing plants in an environmentally-responsible manner. If you share our values, or you wish to learn more about our philosophy, follow us and spread the word, read more about our philanthropy efforts here.
Bring your bag and reduce waste next time you go to your local dispensary!