The pandemic has surely had repercussions in a variety of industries around the world. The consolidation of the marijuana sector, as well as heightened consumer knowledge of the impact of their Marijuana consumption on the environment, are two important after-effects in the United States.
According to a recent survey of 3,000 consumers from eight countries, 95% agree that changing their shopping behavior to be more sustainable can effectively reduce their output of "unsustainable trash." Customers in the marijuana industry, like those in other consumer product industries, are increasingly asking that brands assist them in making environmentally conscious selections. Marijuana packaging businesses, in particular, have heeded the call, as marijuana packaging waste is one of the most serious environmental issues. As a result, there is an ever-expanding market for a variety of marijuana packaging solutions.
However, there are many misunderstandings about which raw resources are sustainable and how each material compares to others. To be more sustainable, a brand should consider the life cycle of a manufactured product based on the materials utilized. The most popular materials are plastic, metal, paper, and glass, but each has its own set of reusability and recycling limitations.
Use of Plastic in Marijuana Packaging
Until now, consumers had been immune to the massive problem of single-use plastic. Polypropylene (PP), a plastic commonly used in takeout food containers, houseware, textiles, and other consumer goods packaging, is used in the majority of marijuana packaging options. Other marijuana packaging polymers, such as Polystyrene (PS), which is found in single-use cups and plastic utensils, and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is found in single-use food containers and water bottles, are rated less toxic.
Polypropylene, a typical marijuana packaging material that may be produced to inhibit UV light exposure, can be created for long-term marijuana storage. This will eventually prevent oxidation and destruction of the THC in the flower, preventing the formation of CBN, which may not be the desired effect for THC users.
Although polypropylene is the most common material used in marijuana packaging, it can be engineered to protect terpenes. Creating an airtight seal to manage humidity, on the other hand, may necessitate the use of a different type of plastic or other raw material. Because adding supplemental material to a product can make it non-recyclable, mono-material packaging is suitable.
Glass is another material option for marijuana packaging because it has inherent properties that help preserve the substance. Because glass is airtight and can regulate humidity levels to prevent mold growth and terpene degradation, it is ideal for marijuana storage because of its greater quality and endurance. Glass is the most stable of all packaging materials since it is inert and impermeable. For marijuana packaging, glass containers are infinitely reusable and easily recycled. Flower preservation in glass containers has been shown to survive longer, and marijuana extracts benefit especially from properly sealed glass concentrate jars because of these properties.
Metalized flexible pouches are known to many consumers who have purchased marijuana from dispensaries. These solutions, however, are not always environmentally favorable. Vapor Metalized Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) films are not compostable, rarely recyclable, and can only be re-used until the material quality deteriorates, despite their outstanding preservation capability due to many layers of aluminum powder bound to plastic surfaces. Although these solutions are less expensive, they do not cater to sustainability. Stand-up barrier pouches are made to be compliant and protective of the contents within.
Although paper appears to be a sustainable alternative because it is a renewable resource, it is a delicate material for packaging. Exit paper bags and cardboard packages are usually recyclable or composted if they are made without contaminating elements. However, other elements, such as polymers, are frequently required to construct child-resistant paper packaging. Furthermore, depending on the type of paper packaging used, it may not be sturdy enough to protect and preserve marijuana to the same extent as other materials. As a result, additional materials may be required to protect the product from moisture droplets and humidity, as well as to retain natural marijuana properties like terpenes. Paper, despite being a sustainable material, should be carefully assessed as a packaging choice based on the needs of the product.
Hemp as a Marijuana Packaging Material
With hemp's growing appeal as a custom marijuana packaging solution, the material's long-term viability appears to be undeniable. However, products labeled as "hemp" may mislead consumers into thinking the product is 100% natural, even though only a small percentage of packaging solutions are manufactured wholly of hemp. Hemp manufacturing infrastructure was historically forced into obsolescence and has only lately resurfaced. Hemp is used in packaging that is generally made with other materials.
A Sustainable Industry?
It's tough to say whether a product is actually "sustainable" or not. In reality, there are many levels of environmental impact for each product. Some products just have a lower environmental impact than others.
Because the marijuana industry is based on the cultivation and selling of a plant, we have a particular environmental responsibility. We must realize the amount of work that still needs to be done in the sustainability arena as a business that promotes holistic healing and wellness. Sustainability is becoming more complex every day, whether organizations tackle it with a diverse offering of eco-friendly choices, circular economy efforts, or a complete rebranding. Companies must educate themselves and their customers to avoid greenwashing. Greenwashing is a severe threat to the industry, diverting time and resources away from more effective, long-term solutions in the name of appearing environmentally good to the public. Greenwashing deceives well-intentioned customers into believing they are making environmentally friendly decisions. Greenwashing not only jeopardizes customer faith in a brand but also hurts the marijuana sector as a whole.
The education and availability of sustainable custom marijuana packaging alternatives will be dependent on the thought of leaders and businesses as the marijuana industry grows. Marijuana may be able to pioneer a physical and figurative green sector if it is committed to ongoing innovation and expansion.