The cannabis industry has grown rapidly in recent years, creating a global market worth billions of dollars. Due to its natural properties, the production, consumption and sale of medicinal cannabis has very strict restrictions and government regulations compared to any other crop. But, there is a legal void when we talk about sustainability and waste that this industry generates.
The challenge of plastic waste
Among the waste generated in medicinal cannabis production, the use of plastic is one of the most worrying. For example, just in the state of Washington, almost 2 million dollars in waste were generated between 2014 and 2017.
Today, 40% of the plastic manufactured for the horticultural industry, including cannabis, is single-use packaging. The waste is disposed of in an uncontrolled way by users and governments. Correcting the problem of plastic pollution requires a fundamental change in our approach to manufacturing, use and how to manage waste.
But plastic is also a challenge for growers: from greenhouse covers to single-use pots. The waste management of all these plastics must be treated correctly since many can be recycled and reused. “Bluntly put, the most effective way to properly manage waste is to not generate it, using products that can be reused and giving them a lasting useful life” explains María Jesús Ferrando, Product Manager at Projar “for this reason we must tend towards a sustainable production that contributes to improving environmental quality, without forgetting that it must be economically viable.”
According to our experience providing solutions for medical cannabis growing, a good example of sustainable practice in the production phase is to use reusable pots, which allow growers to carry out many cycles for years without having to replace them.
“But not all pots last long enough, considering their intense use in the cannabis industry, since it is a very demanding type of cultivation,” continues María Jesús. The sustainability of Projar’s pots can be seen first of all in the transportation method. “Our carbon footprint has been 0 in transport for years. On top of that, our pots come from recycled plastics, which guarantees as many uses as the same raw material, thus generating less waste and reducing pollution.”, Maria continues.
Growpot and Growpot Plus pots are 100% recyclable and detectable in recycling plants thanks to NIR (Near InfraRed) technology. We can achieve transport sustainability thanks to an efficient packaging, so that more pots fit in a smaller space. Additionally, since they are produced using recycled plastics, the manufacturing too reduces the CO2 emission. ”For our pots, we use a Flowerpot + water pack,” she points out. “This pack ensures optimal management of the drainage water that is generated during cultivation, reducing water waste as much as possible. Projar’s GrowPot pots have been designed in collaboration with our main cannabis customers to solve their specific growing needs on both an agricultural and sustainability level. “We can all make a difference in managing waste and caring for the environment. All of our product choices are critical to improving the world we live in and the products we produce.”
A supplier’s responsibility too
Based on this concept, it is essential to demand from suppliers the responsibility of working and manufacturing sustainable products, not only when we talk about plastics but also with the raw materials that we use as a growing medium. Environmental awareness in cannabis cultivation does not only involve better managing of plastic and polluting waste, but also choosing sustainability as the basis of purchasing decisions. The more sustainable products are introduced into growing systems, the greater the contribution to preserving our environment.