We’ve published content recently around waste in our industry and the compliant removal of cannabis waste for operators. What we haven’t talked about yet is the “other” waste issue the cannabis industry has – the excessive packaging required for cannabis sold in retail. While there are some programs for cannabis packaging recycling in markets more mature than Missouri, we don’t have any formal programs in place today. Creative dispensary groups have offered customers the ability to return empty flower jars in exchange for discounted or special promotions, building customer loyalty and showing consumers that they’ve heard them and want to offer a way to feel good about packaging waste.
While social media is certainly not a reliable source for quantitative data, it does provide us the opportunity as an industry to see customer feedback and the corresponding comments social media posts generate. Customers and patients want a way to lessen their impact on the environment and find a way to not feel like they’re creating more waste – bags, jars, boxes, all of these items can wind up in landfills – but they don’t have to.
In Canada, a very mature legal cannabis market, an innovative company has found success in not only helping provide a solution that isn’t just at the dispensary level but across the supply chain. [Re] Waste is helping dispensaries put their low-value wasted packaging to use, by manufacturing 100 percent of the recycled cannabis plastic into new products like “cannabins” (plastic bins), shelving units, concrete and more. Glass and cardboard – yep, they process those too and the output is sold to industrial partners looking for non-virgin feedstock for things like concrete.
How did this come about? That’s a long story, but the need was largely driven by regulatory constraints. To start, Health Canada regulations don’t allow consumers to reuse plastic cannabis containers, so they are often tossed into recycling bins. In some jurisdictions, like Toronto, the black containers and doob tubes aren’t recyclable because optical sorters are unable to recognize the black plastic. Even the light-colored plastic is difficult to sort, as some packaging contains up to three types of plastic. And so a lot of it goes in the garbage.
[Re]Waste CEO, Corey Saban saw the need for a comprehensive solution for all industries, and began strategizing how to not only collect, process, and reuse packaging waste, but also provide value to dispensaries.
“Often times the plastic container would just go to landfill — which is much cheaper of an option — but that’s where companies are investing in better programs to support their goals,” said Saban when passionately explaining the genesis of the company’s objectives.
There are people who are tackling the problem. One of them is Corey Saban, founder and CEO of [Re]waste, an Edmonton-based company that collects and reuses plastic waste, including that from the cannabis industry.
He launched his business in 2020, and started off small: first, by making coasters from compressed plastic bags and other items. That caught the interest of an employee at Value Buds (then called Nova Cannabis). It snowballed from there.
“We’re really seeing consumers pushing [recycling/reuse] for the cannabis supply chain,” Saban said. “They want better options for recycling.”
As a result, [Re]waste is now providing recycling services for about 250 cannabis retailers across Canada. Among the items [Re]waste makes with the plastic are rolling trays and display tables. But it’s not just about collecting and reusing – with more and more focus on sustainability initiatives in companies – including some executive compensation being tied to environmental, social and governance (ESG), a huge part of the [Re]Waste program is the reporting and data they provide to their retail partners. Today, [Re]Waste provides actual ESG data that can be presented to the public and corporate boards, reporting exactly how much CO2 has been reduced by that individual location, as well as how many pounds or tons of landfill-bound packaging has been diverted. In a time when social responsibility has become a big part of a buyer’s purchase decisions and environmental causes are among the most popular with today’s consumers.
[Re]Waste is expanding its operations into the US and has partnered with Missouri’s TPP Services, LLC to lead that expansion. “As a native-Missouri resident, this is a program close to my own ethos and expansion plans are to start US-based operations in my home state. I’ll be working to bring [Re]Waste to multiple markets, but this could be a great contribution to the industry for Missouri to start first, “ said Tammy P, owner of TPP Services, LLC.
Dispensary owners were invited via email campaign to attend an information session on 3/16 at 4 pm for operators to ask questions directly with the [Re]Waste owner and team. If you missed the invite and want to learn more about the program, you can visit their Canadian website and read about the success of the program and how it works by visiting this link. If you aren’t a dispensary owner, but want to support this kind of program, brands have the ability to “sponsor” a dispensary partner and brand the [Re]Waste collection bins in with their own brand logos.
Ready to join the information session? Simply contact Tammy P for the virtual event registration and Zoom link. If you aren’t a dispensary owner, but want to support this kind of program, brands have the ability to “sponsor” a dispensary partner and brand the [Re]Waste collection bins with their own brand logos.
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