As the cannabis industry grapples with the need for greater sustainability, one of its biggest pain points is product packaging.

Industry regulations call for an obscene amount of packaging materials at the retail level, and this situation must stop if we want to take better care of our environment.

What options do stakeholders have? How can this industry adopt sustainable packaging measures?

What Does Sustainability Really Mean?

In the context of the cannabis industry, sustainability refers to practices that reduce environmental impact and promote ecological balance. This involves both immediate actions and long-term strategies to ensure that operations do not deplete resources or harm natural systems.

Short-term actions might include switching to packaging materials that are easier to recycle or that degrade more naturally in the environment. This can help reduce the immediate waste footprint of cannabis products.

Long-term strategies involve developing new materials and methods that could fundamentally change how products are packaged, aiming for a circular economy where materials are continually reused and recycled, minimizing waste altogether.

The goal is to transition the industry from one that contributes significantly to pollution through excessive packaging to one that exemplifies environmental responsibility.

The Role of Packaging in Cannabis Sustainability

Packaging plays a pivotal role in the environmental impact of the cannabis industry. Traditional cannabis packaging—often made of single-use plastics—poses significant sustainability challenges due to its contribution to landfill waste and pollution.

Switching to sustainable packaging materials mitigates these environmental impacts and aligns cannabis companies with broader global sustainability goals. 

Moving Towards Ocean-Reclaimed Plastics

Ocean-reclaimed plastics are collected from marine environments to reduce pollution and are recycled into new packaging materials. This process helps clean our oceans while reducing the need for new plastic production, which is often energy-intensive and pollutive. 

By repurposing the plastics that are already in circulation, companies can significantly lower their environmental footprint.

Both consumers and brands play critical roles in supporting the circular economy, an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Consumers can choose products with ocean-reclaimed packaging, and brands can commit to using these materials, thereby driving demand for recycling initiatives and reducing reliance on virgin plastics.

The Advantages of Glass Jars and Reusable Packaging

Glass jars offer a sustainable packaging alternative to plastics. One can recycle glass indefinitely without loss of quality or purity, making it an environmentally friendly option. Although heavier than plastic, which impacts transportation emissions, the ability to sterilize and reuse glass multiple times before recycling compensates for this footprint.

Encouraging the reuse and recycling of glass jars and other packaging materials can significantly reduce waste. Consumers can then choose to repurpose glass containers for household storage or decorative purposes and to participate in recycling programs to ensure these materials are properly processed and reused.

Humboldt Family Farms Sustainable Packaging

Humboldt Family Farms’ Sustainable Cannabis Packaging

Humboldt Family Farms is committed to environmental stewardship, integrating sustainable practices into every aspect of our operations, including packaging. This approach reduces ecological footprint and also sets a standard for responsible production in the cannabis industry.

  1. Ocean Reclaimed Plastics: Humboldt Family Farms advocates for marine conservation, actively engaging in efforts to repurpose plastics collected from the ocean. By using this reclaimed material for our product packaging, we not only reduce the pollution in our oceans but also contribute to a circular economy where resources are reused and recycled, minimizing waste and environmental impact.
  2. Recyclable or Reusable Glass Jars: In line with our commitment to sustainability, we opt for recyclable and reusable glass jars for our sungrown cannabis products. This choice supports a zero-waste lifecycle, significantly reducing the environmental footprint associated with disposable packaging. Customers are encouraged to repurpose these jars, extending their life beyond a single use.
  3. Reuse of Shipping Packaging: Humboldt Family Farms demonstrates its dedication to environmental stewardship by reusing shipping materials whenever possible. This practice not only reduces the farm’s waste production but also decreases the demand for new packaging materials, thereby lessening the broader environmental impacts associated with the production and disposal of these materials.
  4. Raw Natural Papers: We use raw natural papers for rolling and packaging, which are favored for their minimal processing and absence of chemical additives. These papers are sourced from sustainable forests and are fully biodegradable, contributing to the health of the ecosystem. 

Sustainable Consumption Practices

Adopting sustainable consumption practices is essential for consumers who want to minimize their environmental impact while enjoying cannabis products. Here are some practical tips to help you become a more responsible consumer:

Recycle Materials When Possible

Always look for ways to recycle packaging after you’ve used the product. Many dispensaries offer recycling programs for used containers, and municipal recycling services often accept glass and certain types of plastics. Check local regulations to ensure proper recycling practices.

The Environmental Benefits of Using a Natural Hemp Wick Over Traditional Butane Lighters

Switching from butane lighters to natural hemp wicks can reduce the release of harmful chemicals into the environment. Hemp wicks, which are made from hemp fibers soaked in beeswax, provide a more natural and sustainable way to light cannabis products, minimizing your carbon footprint.

How Raw Papers Contribute to Sustainability

Using raw papers for rolling joints can also enhance sustainability. These papers are typically made from unbleached, all-natural materials and lack the chemicals commonly found in other rolling papers. This makes them better for the environment and also ensures a purer smoking experience.

Ask for Sungrown Cannabis

Sungrown cannabis is generally the cleanest weed you can buy. By growing in natural environments (like we do here in Humboldt County), our plants require significantly less input. Sungrown farmers typically use rain catchment systems and solar power and avoid electric consumption and harmful chemicals that poison the land and water supply. If you want to change your cannabis habits, this is an easy way to make a big difference—support sungrown!

Recycled glass jars

The Future of Sustainability in the Cannabis Industry

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, the focus on sustainability is becoming increasingly important. Emerging trends and technologies are paving the way for more eco-friendly cultivation and packaging practices, setting a new standard for the industry.

Emerging Trends and Technologies

Innovations in biodegradable packaging materials and the development of more efficient recycling processes are at the forefront of efforts to reduce environmental impacts. Advances in agricultural technology also allow for more sustainable cultivation methods that use less water and energy.

The Importance of Industry-Wide Collaboration

Collaboration across companies and organizations is essential for sustainability to become a cornerstone of the cannabis industry. This includes sharing best practices, investing in joint sustainability projects, and collectively advocating for regulations that prioritize environmental health.

Consumer Support for Sustainable Practices

Consumers play a crucial role in driving the demand for sustainable cannabis products. By choosing brands that are committed to eco-friendly practices, consumers can influence the market and encourage more companies to consider sustainability a priority.

Tips for Choosing Sustainable Cannabis Products

  1. Look for Certifications – Opt for products certified by recognized environmental organizations.
  2. Research Brand Practices – Support companies that transparently share their sustainability efforts and results.
  3. Consider the Packaging – Choose products with minimal, recyclable, or biodegradable packaging.
  4. Use a Beeline for a Cleaner Experience – When smoking, opt for a natural hemp wick to reduce the use of butane and enhance the purity of your experience.

Championing Sustainability

As the cannabis industry grows, so does the importance of sustainability. It is possible to use eco-friendly practices like ocean-reclaimed plastics, recyclable glass jars, and smart cultivation methods to make a difference. We can collectively make a difference. By supporting small-batch, eco-friendly cannabis companies, you are voting with your dollars for a more sustainable future for all of us. It’s about working together to make sure the industry grows the right way—responsibly and with respect for our planet.