When marijuana was first legalized in October of 2018, concerns were immediately raised over the packaging of legal cannabis products. After months of public criticism, several provinces have decided to initiate marijuana recycling programs designed to reduce the amount of waste generated by legal marijuana sales. Moreover, many are hoping that producers will follow suit, reducing the amount of packaging on their products.
The primary problem is the plastic containers that legal marijuana products are sold in. Most cannabis buds sold in Canada are packaged in plastic pill bottles, cardboard containers, and paper bags. However, these containers are unnecessarily wasteful and more difficult to recycle than other kinds of packaging.
On their end, producers have shifted blame to the government, and specifically to government packaging and safety regulations. According to Health Canada’s guidelines, product packaging must prevent the contamination of cannabis, while also being child-resistant and tamper proof. This has led to the sale of wasteful and avoidable packaging which does not always make it into recycling bins.
Provinces and producers are actively looking for ways to cut down on cannabis-related waste.
On their end, producers are looking to cut down on unnecessary packaging however possible. Some producers have begun to remove the plastic wrapping and extra cardboard on products still being sold in pill bottles. Meanwhile, others are looking to make the move away from solid plastic containers altogether. For example, for some time now, licensed producer Aphria has been selling its small buds in sealed brown envelopes.
Maritime Provinces Leading The Way
Maritime provinces like New Brunswick and Prince-Edward-Island (P.E.I.) are leading the way when it comes to marijuana recycling initiatives.
Earlier this year, New Brunswick installed recycling kiosks at 7 locations, although more are expected to come. Cannabis NB claims to have recycled more than a dozen crates of plastic recyclables between March and May of this year.
Cannabis P.E.I. also recently announced the introduction of a similar province-wide marijuana recycling program. Under the new program, cardboard kiosks have been set up in four different locations across the Island. The province has partnered with a local recycling company to collect, clean, melt-down, and reuse the recyclable materials sold alongside cannabis products.
Provinces are hoping that, by convincing producers to cut down on packaging, and by providing residents with convenient recycling locations, cannabis-related waste will significantly decrease. However, federal regulations on packaging and tamper-resistance may have to change in order for real change to be seen.