Safety Standards

Colorado Cannabis Waste Reduction

Ren Gobris
Written by Ren Gobris

The Colorado Legislatureand other industry stakeholders are taking important steps toward curbing the environmental impact of the state’s $1.5 billion cannabis industry. 

Two of the largest sources of cannabis waste include organic (green) waste from cultivation facilities and packaging waste from the delivery of products to cannabis consumers.  Ironically, and perhaps surprisingly to some, a large portion of waste comes from an unexpected source—government regulations.

Organic cannabis waste includes leaves, stems, stalks, and root balls.  These contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive substance found in cannabis.  Unfortunately, the concern for management of even trace amounts of THC is resulting in large quantities of waste going to landfills.

In Colorado, cannabis waste must be made “unusable and unrecognizable” before being removed from the licensed facility.   To achieve this, cannabis must be ground up and combined in a 50/50 mixture with an approved non-consumable material.  Sadly, that laborious and costly process actually doubles the amount of waste going into landfills!

Colorado law requires that cannabis products be sold in packaging that is opaque, resealable, and child resistant.

Cannabis waste treatment rules are meant to prevent diversions, or cannabis going where it shouldn’t.  Cannabis packaging rules promote public safety by protecting children, teens, and unsuspecting adults from accidentally eating cannabis products.  Both rules are useful and necessary.But taken together, the unintentional consequence is the creation of thousands of metric tons of cannabis wasteslittle of which is recycled.  Most ends up in landfills.

Note the reusable locking mechanism on the black exit package and the complicated child-resistant packaging used to house the chocolate bar.

To alleviate the burgeoning waste problem and promote the recycling of organic cannabis waste, the Colorado State Senate introduced, and passed by a 34-0 margin, Senate Bill 18-187.  For more information go to  http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb18-187.

As of this writing, the Bill is making its way through the House.  If approved, Senate Bill 18-187 will require the state licensing authority to develop rules that define how cannabis businesses may transfer cannabis “Fibrous Waste” for purposes of producing “Industrial Fiber Products.”   Fibrous Waste is defined as stalks, stems, and root balls only. The bill does not include leaves at this time.  Industrial Fiber Products are loosely defined as, but not limited to, cordage, paper, fuel, textiles, bedding insulation, and construction, compost, and other industrial materials.

For the full version of this article, please tune in to issue three of Cannabis Packaging News. To learn more about Colorado waste reduction efforts, CAFR, and the newly formed Cannabis Waste Council, please visit http://www.cafr.org .

About the author

Ren Gobris

Ren Gobris

Ren Gobris is the CAFR Cannabis Waste Council Chair. He is Founder and Owner of Cannabis Regulatory Solutions (CRS), a Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) approved Responsible Vendor Program training provider. CRS offers Cultivator Compliance Training and cannabis consulting services. Ren may be reached at CannabisRegulatorySolutions.com

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