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Save the Earth: Ideas For Reusing Cannabis Packaging

By Danyal Swan September 25, 2021

The ever-growing cannabis industry is one that strives for sustainability but faces an uphill battle when it comes to waste. As an agricultural industry, the importance of the environment is substantial, but rigid regulations and restrictions cannabis dispensaries are forced to deal with make it difficult - and tend to produce heavy packing waste. In general, cannabis packing ranges from 4-30 times the weight of the product that they hold. This waste continues to present a challenge for those working for the cannabis industry.

How do we make cannabis packaging more environmentally friendly? In Florida, we have taken great strides to do our part to care more for the environment and cut down on waste. We utilize biodegradable straws, cutlery, and containers. We consider little things like cutting soda holders to help our sea life. If we can take these measures to better the world around us, why isn’t recycling cannabis packaging feasible?

What Are The Recycling Challenges?

Portrait Of Woman Carrying Recycling Bin

While the cannabis industry is highly regulated, many of these regulations are for good reasons. One of the factors driving these regulations is the need to ensure that the packaging is child resistant. While no one would argue the necessity to ensure children can’t physically access the cannabis products, it also presents a challenge for trying to cut down on non-recyclable material. With these regulations, many components of cannabis use can’t be recycled - marijuana vapes are one of the largest culprits.

The vape is one of the fastest growing sectors in the cannabis industry. It is easy and simple to use and allows the user a different level of discretion compared to other methods of use. But, cartridges are one of the leading non-recyclable items that create a challenge in sustainability. Not only is the cartridge non-recyclable, but vapes themselves, like disposables, are difficult to recycle. The difficulty with recycling lies in its variety of components that need to be separated to properly recycle.

In general, the rules and restrictions vary from state to state. This is an additional consideration to understanding how each different component may have to be recycled. Vapes can have a large assortment of different components such as glass, ceramic, batteries, coils and the cartridges themselves. As it stands, there is currently no way to recycle cartridges in Florida. Luckily, certain plastic materials can be rinsed of all residue and be recycled. There are seven different types of plastic, so it is important to be able to identify the type of plastic used in your cannabis packaging.

What Is Recyclable?

It may feel like a long list of things that aren’t recyclable, but there is also a list of things that are. These can vary from state to state, but in general:

• Glass, just make sure that it’s clean with no residue
• Uncoated paper boxes and paper materials
• Aluminum tins
• Certain types of plastics*

*Note: There are different types of plastic, some can be recycled, and some can’t. Your quickest and best option is to first find the number on your plastic container. These can usually be found at the bottom of the container. Once you know the number, call your local recycling center to confirm their policies. After confirmation from your center, be sure to wash the container and remove any outside labeling.

How MÜV Makes A Difference

Marijuana packaging can easily be reused, or "upcycled" as the term has been coined.

In Florida, MÜV Medical Cannabis Dispensary is taking whatever steps possible to limit our use of non-recyclable materials. With over 30 stores, utilizing recyclable materials is a driving factor in our business model.

MÜV uses paper bags that are manufactured in the USA and are made of 100% FSC recycled material. This label means that these bags are verified to ensure that all the wood or paper in that product is genuinely recycled. We also utilize plastic bags that are made of sugarcane, making them biodegradable, and our Wana Soft Chews packaging is made of recycled materials. All flower jars and plastic tubes can be recycled after a thorough wash to remove all residue, and MÜV is in the process of updating all cardboard packaging to ensure recyclability. These small steps help to limit the amount of non-recycled material going out to the public.

What Can I Do To Help?

Within the cannabis industry, the restrictions in place make it difficult to provide many options for recycling for the manufacturers and consumers. What can be helpful is taking advantage of the numerous recycling ideas for cannabis packaging that can be utilized by anyone who uses cannabis. The industry may be limited in how they can sell their product, but what a person can do at home is quite remarkable.

The concept of ‘upcycling’ has grown in popularity, especially with the environmentally friendly mindset we have developed in recent years. Now more than ever before, consumers genuinely care what impact a product could have beyond its initial use. When a product can’t be recycled, upcycling is the next best option. This means that you are utilizing something that might ordinarily be waste, but using it in a way to make something better. Repurposing your cannabis product packaging is incredibly simple, even for the most basic DIYer.

Upcycling Cannabis Packaging DIY Ideas For The Crafty

Old glass jar is connected to a metal wire and hang on a wall outside. There are water and flowers in the jar. Concept of upcycling where old products are reused and turned into something useful insted of being thrown out.

Crafting with cannabis packaging is not only environmentally friendly, but it can be a ton of fun. You’d be surprised how easy it is to create something new by reusing cannabis packaging. These crafts are generally easy, and you’ll be happy knowing that you upcycled versus throwing the packaging away. Pinterest is an amazing site to start exploring what you can do. These are just a few of the countless possibilities.

• Cutting boxes to create cute earring holders. This is a great way to display and organize your earrings. You’ll love the convenience of finding your matching earrings with ease. You can also utilize longer sides of these boxes to hold bracelets or necklaces, or slide in your bobby pins to create an easy-to-carry storage box.

• You can create cute and creative bookmarks for the active reader in your life with leftover packaging boxes. You can also use these boxes to create personalized gift tags for any party or event.

• Cartridges may be one of the hardest products to properly dispose of when it comes to recycling, but they can be used for the cutest upcycling DIYs. Cartridges provide for a variety of true craft projects. For example, you can string your cartridges together to create a unique and unexpected wind chime.

• Cartridges also make perfect keychains for an individual who likes to add a little flare to their key ring or even a jacket or purse zipper.

• Don’t forget about holiday decor. You heard right; you can create fun and unique holiday gifts for your friends and family, like a packaging-themed wreath.

• You can also use cartridges to create unique signs for your home. Instead of grandma’s cross-stitch or mom’s framed wine corks, utilize cartridges instead! Imagine a sign in the kitchen that says “Eat” created solely from cartridges. Talk about a play on the term “munchies.”

• In addition to creating your own signs, you can also use cartridges to create a fun and unique background for a clock, or even a mirror.

• If you’re a green thumb and grow flowers, the variety of jars can make for excellent plant holders.

Simple Cannabis Package Upcycling Options

Rosin and Crumble jars are the ideal travel companion for moisturizers, shampoos and conditioners.

Don’t consider yourself a crafty individual? That’s okay! Even for the non-crafty, there are still endless possibilities when it comes to repurposing your cannabis product packaging. You don’t have to do anything big to make a positive impact. Even the simplest form of upcycling is still upcycling! While there are tons of different ways you can utilize your non-recyclable material, here are a few options that really work across the board for all cannabis users.

Do you travel often but struggle to stay organized? Doob tubes provide endless possibilities when it comes to traveling with smaller necessities. These can work great in both your purse and suitcase. These tubes are great for storing cotton swabs. They also work perfectly for anything from makeup brushes, bobby pins, tweezers, or even toothpicks. Step up your travel organization another notch by individually packaging earrings in concentrate baggies to thwart losing or tangling your favorite pairs.

It may sound a bit silly at first, but small plastic jars are great for quick snacks in the car or in your purse. You’ll simply need to wash the container and also remove any outside label materials. You can fill the jar with quick easy snacks like M&Ms or peanuts. You’ll be able to buy your snacks in bulk versus the smaller, individual bags you’d find at the gas station or checkout aisle. Or, better yet, fill the jar with a travel-sized dollop of moisturizer or shampoo. Upcycling these ways saves you on food and travel plastic waste as well!

Flower jars are probably one of the most versatile options when it comes to repurposing after storing your bud. Once cleaned, these jars are perfect for all different needs due to their variety of sizes. They can be used for spices, loose leaf tea, or even a convenient way to pack salad dressing for lunch. Flower jars also work great for travel-size containers for lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Not only are you reusing your jar, but you’re also avoiding the need to purchase pre-packed plastic travel containers which often can’t be recycled either. The jar can hold cotton balls, or other beauty necessities. It also works great as a nail polish remover cup. All you need to do is fill the jar with cotton balls and add in your remover of choice. You can even store jewelry to keep it safe and organized while traveling.

CR boxes are incredibly versatile storage containers. In the beauty world, they are great for storing eyeliner or bobby pins, and for home improvement and general maintenance, nails and screws fit easily in the box. There is nothing worse than trying to complete a project, but all your tools are scattered. CR boxes are perfect for small office supplies such as thumbtacks and paperclips.

When it comes to reusing cannabis packaging, the possibilities really are endless. You can take what you want from hundreds of DIY ideas and give them a unique twist to help you minimize your waste. Even if you aren’t a crafty person, there are simple ways to reuse your packaging instead of just tossing it in the trash. Until we can move forward as a society to better include the environment in decisions on regulating and requirements, we can at least do our part. These items do add up over time, and every step we can take to better protect our planet is a step forward.

Save the Planet, One Package at A Time

reduce reuse recycle concept drawn on sand, sustainability

The cannabis space is constantly evolving to meet the various challenges that have been presented as the industry grows. Utilizing easily recyclable paper packaging, or plastic bags made of sugarcane are just the first small steps. In time, and depending on location, these regulations could change as better options are pursued and understood.

When feasible, recycling is always going to be the best option for protecting our environment. When recycling isn’t an option, upcycling is the next best thing. The cannabis industry will continue to make strides in understanding ways that materials can be made more environmentally friendly while still meeting the requirements in place, at both social and federal levels. When it comes to lowering the impact packaging could make, it will take the small steps of both producer and consumer. Together, we can recycle and upcycle whenever possible to improve the sustainability within the cannabis space.

Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.

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