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Sustainable Packaging is Good for Business & the Planet

Emerald Bay winter sunrise in Lake Tahoe/ Photo jcookfisher

Joint Opinions

Sustainable Packaging is Good for Business & the Planet

A recycling program for jars can eliminate packaging waste.

What does it mean to be sustainable and how do you preserve your product, reputation and brand while also maintaining a good profit margin? Keep it simple! It really is that straightforward and can be as easy as being thoughtful by making a conscious daily choice that will not only help the planet, it can also benefit your organization in many ways. Before dispensaries there was very little trash involved in the consumption of cannabis, some turkey bags, ziplock, a pack of rice papers, and a glass pipe that was reused up to a lifetime. Since emerging to the commercial cannabis market we have started to see a serious amount of trash in the new “industry.” This drives me crazy and I knew with a little thought and a conscious choice the trash could be eliminated.

For the first few years I operated a dispensary I ordered a pallet of plastic pouches every couple months from China. Because Lake Tahoe is at 6,400 feet and the air is extremely dry we needed to seal the bags which would require the consumer to tear the plastic to break the seal. When taking the lift up the mountain in one of the most beautiful environments in the world, I started to see plastic from our bags underneath the lift (probably from accidental drops after someone tore the bag open) and I realized I was contributing to creating trash in weed, something new and really not cool.

It wasn’t to much later that I headed to Prague for Cannafest and, while there, I noticed how drink companies were still using bottles. When I saw a worn ring around each bottle, I realized, “Wow! These guys are still reusing their glass” and it hit me — I could do the same! So while doing research I came to realize that I needed to create an incentive for my members to want to bring these jars back to Tahoe Wellness Cooperative, not only to help the environment, but also to not incur extra packaging cost. So we did our research and found glass jars with a medal lid that had a seal which would keep cannabis fresh, but could also be soaked in 100 percent alcohol and washed through a NSF dishwasher.

We found the cost of the jars was too high so we established a $1 deposit on all purchases, however at our dispensary if you bring your jar back, you get your $1 back. We discovered that our members were not upset with the charge in fact, many were excited to be a part of helping the environment and also happy there medicine was now in a jar so it would not become smashed. We also found that many patients liked to save up 50 jars and bring them back to get extra medicine with their return of deposit. The program has proven to be a win for everyone and most importantly the planet. We have been conducting this program for five years and have 70 percent of our jars returned, which has allowed our budget to remain the same as when we ordered from China.

Cannabis should not create trash, it is a beautiful plant that needs conscious ways to allow her beauty to spread to all of mankind, the best way for that to happen is to keep it simple.

TELL US, are you concerned about waste when it comes to cannabis products?

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