Environmental Sustainability in Cannabis

Coming from a decades-long association with hippies and treehuggers, cannabis has always correlated with being green.

As the industry and community gradually became legitimate and legalized, this environmental approach hasn’t always continued in that sustainable direction.

The longer this industry matures, the more we will begin to see and understand the impact it has had on our environment.

Now, action for more efficient and sustainable methods in all avenues of the industry is urgently needed. Many companies are leading in this change by pushing their innovative ideas and practices for a greener future, sparking inspiration for consumers and company owners to follow suit.

The Need for Environmental Compliance in Cannabis 

In almost every industry, companies and corporations could do better toward implementing environmentally efficient practices in their operation or business. Particularly with cannabis, the sustainability conversation has been at the forefront of this budding industry for some time.

With the rollout of legalization looking slightly different for each state, many were slow or behind on enforcing industry environmental regulations, and some states still lack any specific policy framework due to the federally illegal status of the plant.

In most states, once a cannabis owner secured a business license and got the green light to establish a company, the primary focus was on building out cultivation facilities or marketing the newest quality brand or product. There were no policies or environmental requirements for how to go about these new procedures.

Now, thanks to newer enforcement for environmental compliance in the agriculture and cannabis industries, cultivators and manufacturers across the country are beginning to recognize the importance of these sustainable practices and how these operations can run more efficiently.

A Rising Concern for Environmental Control 

Since this legal market is still considered newer than most, the question still stands on the long-term impacts today’s indoor cannabis industry has on the environment.

  • As of last year, nearly one-third of Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal for adults over the age of 21.
  • In the U.S. alone, 80% of legal cannabis is cultivated indoors.
  • Factors of indoor cannabis cultivation can depend on the region or climate located, the state’s regulations, or business preferences.
  • The current federal prohibition of cannabis limits agencies such as the Department of Energy or Environmental Protection Agency from researching how to improve energy efficiency or determine any further information on carbon dioxide emissions from facilities.

However, what we do know is that the rising popularity of cannabis and industry breakthroughs pave room for an extreme blow to our environment and the natural resources being used.

High Demands for Water & Energy Resources 

Indoor cannabis cultivation specifically requires a large demand for water and energy-intensive resources.

Between proper lighting, air fans and humidity control, and other heavy-duty equipment, the average commercial cannabis setup can consume an estimated 2,000 watts per square meter. 

In 2020, an energy model report estimated that Massachusetts’ indoor cannabis industry represents 10% of the state’s total industrial electricity consumption.

Additionally, a report by New Frontier Data, Cannabis H20: Water use & Sustainability in Cultivation, estimates that with the predicted market increase by 2025, the total water usage of the legal U.S. cannabis market will increase by 86%.

This large demand for water in cannabis stems from a variety of causes – such as irregular weather patterns in dry regions, irresponsible water use, or watershed resources being stolen from illegal cannabis grows.

No matter the cause, the result is cultivators, particularly in these Western drought regions, who are now faced with cautiously conserving water use for their plants.

Consumption Waste

From a consumer’s standpoint, plastic product waste is another rising concern that urges the importance of sustainability in cannabis.

Plastic is a big issue for any industry. Billions of pieces end up floating in our oceans and harming wildlife, and the plastic that does make it to landfills takes hundreds of years to decompose.

There are disposable vapes and vape cartridges, dispensary bottles from tinctures and oils, and plastic jars and flower containers of every size. With the wide variety of single-use plastic that is created in the cannabis industry, brands must limit this use or find a better sustainable option.

It’s important to remember that while the carbon footprint of cannabis companies and cultivators is inevitable, there are plenty of ways to minimize and modify one’s environmental impact throughout each step of the process.

Luckily, many innovative companies and brands are paving the way for these sustainable standards of the cannabis industry.

Innovative Ideas for a Greener Future 

Among the quick advancements that have taken place in the cannabis industry, we’ve seen many brands and companies bring innovative ideas and efforts to their operation.

A few ways companies are incorporating a more environmentally friendly approach to their brand and services in order to promote sustainability in cannabis.

Recycling with Lucky Green Ladies 

This Massachusetts-based cannabis delivery service is on a mission to bring social equity and sustainability efforts in each step of its process. From hybrid electric vehicles to ocean-bound packaging, their sustainability has not only positively impacted the environment while creating a strong and valuable brand identity.

Their Return A Jar program allows customers to return empty jars and cannabis containers for recycling, rewashed, and reused. Not only does this conserve the plastic use and product waste that comes from product sales, but allows engaging customer involvement and loyalty in the process.

Treeform’s Sustainable Cannabis Packaging 

With the environment in mind, there is one custom product packaging company providing sustainable solutions to all of its packaging needs.

Treeform Packaging Solutions offers custom cannabis packaging options for a variety of product types. From glass jars to recycled paper boxes, these packaging solutions offer a first impression of a brand’s sustainable efforts. Each package product type is customized to represent the unique visual identity of the brand.

Geomat Water Recycling Systems 

The environmental company Geomat has been helping industries for years reach OSHA and EPA requirements with its Patented wastewater containment technology.

Geomat’s systems have recently helped indoor cannabis cultivations capture and recycle water runoff that occurs in sanitation and washing processes. The water is collected and cleaned either for reuse or to safely connect back to the facility’s sewer line. By conserving overall water usage, these systems help cannabis facilities reach regulated environmental compliance.

Fernway’s Recycled Vape Cartridges 

As a leading cannabis vape company in Massachusetts, Fernway understands you shouldn’t have to compromise on being environmentally conscious in order to enjoy a best-in-class cannabis experience. 

To provide a direct sustainable solution to consumers, Fernway announced all their cannabis vapes carts are completely recyclable – no matter the size or specific vape product, all empty vape cartridges can be returned to be recycled at the dispensary where you purchased, where it’s then structured and recreated for reuse.

Stay Updated on the Industry with Cannabis Creative 

As a newer industry that is constantly growing and shifting each day, cannabis is in a unique position to set the standard for how other industries can incorporate environmental sustainability into their own practices.

We’ve seen immense advancement in this industry and there’s no doubt we will continue to do so. Because of the emerging technology and sustainable resources we now have available, everyone from cannabis cultivators, budtenders and dispensary owners, to high-class industry executives should be making a conscious, eco-friendly effort with cannabis.

What this will take is each company’s effort to operate with conscious consideration of the environment, and the sustainable mind of the consumer.

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