It is not a secret that the cannabis industry creates a lot of waste. In most states with adult-use cannabis (recreational), every purchase from a dispensary must leave the door in a childproof exit bag. Almost all of the items in the dispensaries are already prepacked and many of that packaging is also childproof which typically requires more plastic to be used. Not only is the plastic waste becoming a problem — and also considered toxic because of its use — the plant waste has started to become an issue. Most cannabis waste ends in a landfill and the plant waste must be disposed of properly.
Colorado Association for Recycling (CAFR) is working to help reduce that plant waste. Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment requires cannabis businesses to notify the department to obtain an EPA identification number to dispose of the waste because it could become toxic. Plant waste shares the same waste category of pesticides, chemicals used in cultivation and solvents used for extraction.
Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division has not yet approved waste recycling standards of operation. CAFR is taking action to work with dispensaries to safely recycle and dispose of cannabis and packaging waste. Director of the Colorado Association for Recycling Inc, Laurie Johnson, has decided to work with the industry in order to help reduce this problem.
Laurie Johnson stated in Colorado Springs Independent “We’ve had so many dispensaries come to us and say, ‘Hey, the state now has diversion goals. We want to be as responsible as we can with these materials, but what are we supposed to do with all this plastic and plant waste?’”
Most waste services have very specific instructions for the disposal of cannabis and some even mandate that their compost mixture must be less than 50% cannabis waste and unusable and unrecognizable. A popular method for composting cannabis is the Bokashi Method in which cannabis waste is put into a large drum with water and bokashi compost activator then left for two weeks until the microorganisms have fermented the mixture into a probiotic nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Manna Molecular aims to reduce our waste as much as possible across all business activities. Unfortunately, because of regulation and child safety, this industry cannot eliminate as much waste as we would like. We must innovate together to be proactive about this harmful situation so our industry can continue to help people and Mother Earth from which we benefit.