Every Earth Day, it can be easy to forget the holiday altogether – particularly if you’re a cannabis fan or consumer . Two days after 4/20, we’re usually either picking ourselves back up after a little bit of over-consumption, or trying to get our lives back on track after an extremely busy work week. April 22, Earth Day, falls by the wayside, a day we would likely celebrate more if only it were a little more convenient.
Unfortunately, that’s how taking care of our planet factors into a lot of our lives and busy schedules, including those of us who work in weed. With all the regulations facing the industry in every state, and a glaring lack of federal legalization and oversight, it’s easy to get caught up in making the best possible guideline-compliant product, causing any eco-friendly angles to slip altogether.
Luckily, this is starting to change. Many cannabis brands are realizing that non-sustainable grow practices and utilizing a ton of plastic packaging just to stay in compliance is not the way of the future, and they’re making a change for the better. We talked to a handful of businesses in the cannabis world about how they’re helping to make a difference in the world of cannabis.
ReDram’s Eco-Friendly Program
The ReDram Program, based in Salem, Oregon, is an initiative formed with the mission of replacing wasteful, non-recyclable packaging with better options.
“If you make the industry use these polypropylene pop-tops, then they need a solution to actually recycle and reuse them,” says founder Rich Park, pointing to the fact that many recycling centers and programs won’t accept cannabis packaging.
The majority of that packaging ends up in landfills, and through smart recycling solutions, ReDram Program hopes to change that and provide more options. This year, ReDram took on a special initiative to promote more recycling.
“Our 420 Earth Day event [was] basically enhancing a current recycling program in the Oregon metro area,” he explains. “We collect about roughly 2,000 pounds [of materials] a month, and we also sell some of the products back to the retailers so that they can reuse them.”
Through these small steps, the ReDram Program is actively moving towards sustainability and away from single-use plastics.
Based in both Massachusetts and Maine, the locations where Theory Wellness grows its cannabis doesn’t allow for outdoor cultivation, which can pose unique struggles in being eco-friendly, along with the normal challenges faced by weed businesses.
“We are always looking for ways we can reduce our environmental footprint, not just from the packaging standpoint, but also our farming approach and our cultivation approach, where we source our energy, how we build delivery systems, even using hybrid cars,” explains Thomas Winstanely, VP of marketing.
Theory Wellness is dedicated to lowering the waste problem created by the cannabis industry. “We’ve seen this massive toll that packaging takes on the cannabis industry, and we’ve seen a lot of the waste that is created. And some of it is required because of child-safe packaging that requires mechanisms for safety, but we’re always looking to find ways where we can minimize the introduction of additional plastics, where we can try to find compostable solutions, biodegradable solutions, recyclable solutions.”
Theory Wellness also sells a cannabis beverage, High Five, in a recyclable can; 10 percent of the proceeds from that product go to One Tree Planted in order to reforest deforested areas.
“The cannabis industry has a plastic problem,” the team at Wyld explains. “Plain and simple, the industry is littered with single-use plastic, child-resistant containers required by states to sell cannabis products. As the nation’s top selling cannabis edible brand, we are part of the problem but are working towards being the solution.”
The brand is attempting to offset its carbon footprint by supporting conservation efforts and using renewable energy, as well as reducing waste. This starts with recalculating how the brand makes its products in order to minimize the impact of production and packaging on the environment.
“Last year, Wyld achieved carbon neutrality by measuring, reducing, and offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions produced by our overall operations,” the brand continues. “Wyld became a Climate Neutral certified brand in April 2022 and matches 100% of our energy use with renewable energy certificates to support green power production. Wyld’s green power purchases are from Green-e certified sources.”
Next, the brand will be focused on moving further into a green direction by launching fully compostable packaging in Canada, and redesigning U.S. packaging to be more environmentally friendly. The company is also working on both short- and long-term plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, vetting its supply chain to make sure partners are eco-friendly, alongside giving back to environmentally-friendly organizations.
In September 2021, major cannabis player Trulieve announced the TruRecycle program, which first launched in Florida. Through that program, Trulieve announced processing nearly 5,000 pounds of cannabis packaging recycling waste as of the end of March 2022, and shared plans to roll the initiative out in other states soon. Trulieve also has staff across the U.S. participating in clean-up events this year for Earth Day, in addition to some corporate partnerships.
“Trulieve has partnered with One Tree Planted this month and donated towards reforestation projects in Arizona and Florida,” says Kim Rivers, Trulieve’s CEO. “This organization plants a tree for every $1 donated and since 2014 has planted 40,000,000-plus trees in 43 countries. We are thrilled to partner with this impactful organization for Earth Day, investing in our planet and the reforestation of our operational markets.”
As the brand continues to grow, it plans to expand the TruRecycle program, as well as keep committing to clean-ups in order to honor Earth Day.