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The cannabis industry has a plastic waste problem. In fact, according to some estimates, cannabis was responsible for over one million tons of waste in 2019 alone! The blame for much of this wasteful packaging is due to regulation – marijuana may be legal, but the industry is one of the most strictly regulated in the world.  

For example, products must be sold in child-safe containers. This isn’t a bad rule, considering that many edibles look like candy, brownies, and other snacks that would be appealing to a child. But making a package child-proof adds another layer of plastic, and the requirements don’t end there. In addition to being child-safe, containers may be required to be tamper-proof, resealable, and opaque – all of which require more packaging to achieve.  

The plastic problem isn’t limited to the United States. When Canada first legalized marijuana in 2018, the CBC reported that a single gram of cannabis can come packaged in as much as 70-100 grams of plastic, foil, cardboard, and other packaging waste.  

There are, however, a few innovators in the industry who are devising some interesting solutions.  

Sana Packaging manufactures packaging for all phases of the marijuana industry, from growth to retail sale. Their packaging incorporates three main ingredients: reclaimed ocean plastic, hemp-based bioplastics, and hemp paperboard.  

All plastic incorporated into their packaging is reclaimed ocean plastic that is 100% HDPE (or #2 plastic, which is highly recyclable). Their hemp plastic is a chemical-free biocomposite that’s 100% plant-based, and their hemp paperboard is composed of a combination of post-consumer recycled paper and hemp.  

They make packaging for a wide variety of cannabis products, including vape cartridges, pre-roll tubes, topicals, concentrates, edibles, flowers, and more – all compliant with state and local regulations.  

Elevate Packaging is a sustainable packaging company that has been in operation for over 20 years. They work with cannabis companies in all parts of the industry to ensure that their packaging is both eco-friendly and satisfies the rules and regulations in their state.  

Some of the products they offer include compostable pouches, recycled carton boxes, merchandise display stands, and set-up boxes made of eco-friendly materials.  

SunGrown Packaging is a California-based company that specializes in packaging for the cannabis industry. They customize their packaging based on customer needs and offer 100% recyclable and compostable solutions that don’t include plastic. Their products are child-resistant, resealable, and compliant with all US-based regulations.  

While many challenges remain in the way of transforming the marijuana industry into a fully sustainable one, companies like these are helping to push progress forward. No matter what part of the cannabis industry you work in, you have the potential to make a big impact by partnering with organizations that care about alleviating the plastics problem.