Most stakeholders in the cannabis industry will agree that sustainability is an important priority for their cannabis brand. Many brands are seeking to invest in designing genuinely sustainable packaging that have a shorter life-span and will not be cast to a landfill after its use.
Packaging can be a huge hurdle for any company who prides themselves on offering environmentally responsible products. Currently, there are over 300 tons of plastic produced each year with over 50% of those items designed for single-use and ending up in landfills and oceans, according to the NGO Plastic Oceans.
Walk out of a store after buying cannabis and the amount of packaging for even something as simple as flower is often excessive. It’s common for only a few grams of flower to be packaged in a mylar bag or a hard-plastic pop-top container, then placed in another child-resistant, nonrecyclable bag. Some of that excess is the result of restrictions from state regulators.
Cannabis product packaging companies are rising to the challenge to provide eco-friendly packaging solutions that not only are kind to the earth but also keep marijuana products clean, fresh, and out of reach of minors.
There are a few things we look for when identifying promotion-worthy packaging companies. The more of these boxes they check the more sustainable the brand:
At Calyx Containers, an Allston, Massachusetts-based marijuana and hemp packaging business, the bulk of the material the company uses is recyclable – either polypropylene or glass.
The clear glass in one packaging line uses 56% recycled content. That reduces the amount of raw materials needed to produce the glass, which also cuts emissions from manufacturing, according to Colette Bazirgan, Calyx’s sustainability manager.
Calyx also focuses on the durability of the packaging, so that consumers can reuse the products after the cannabis is consumed.
“Our products can be used in many ways,” Bazirgan said. “We absolutely stress the importance of reusing them.”
Calyx has explored hemp-based plastics, but so far, the materials haven’t met the company’s needs. That doesn’t mean Calyx isn’t still looking at hemp-based plastics as an option, Bazirgan said. “I would love to see hemp become more part of the generation of new bio-based materials,” she added. “So we’re keeping an eye on that space.”
Visit Calyx Containers at https://calyxcontainers.com/
Sun Grown Packaging filed the very first patent for recyclable, compostable, and child-resistant packaging products. They are also made in the United States, which cuts down on transportation waste/pollution usually involved with off-shore manufacturing/production.
SGP’s box is the only box that does not contain plastic that is also approved by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (which regulates the cannabis industry in Oregon).
The company is also a member of ASTM International, which is a voluntary organization that sets international standards for sustainability and environmentally responsible corporate practices.
Being eco-friendly doesn’t mean sacrificing on packaging design, durability or customization. Sun Grown has worked with many big names in the industry to create attractive eco-friendly options for a variety of brands ranging from pre-rolls to extracts.
Visit Sun Grown at https://www.sungrownpackaging.com/
One area to target is sustainable, biodegradable material for pouch packaging, which is popular in the industry, according to Tom Vickers, founder of Packwolves, an on-demand cannabis packaging platform headquartered in San Juan Capistrano, California.
His company offers a pouch made from biodegradable material, including recyclable craft paper and polyethylene that would cost a cannabis company about 15%-20% more than common packaging options.
Visit Packwolves at https://packwolves.com/
Sana Packaging is a Denver based company that focuses exclusively on eco-friendly packaging solutions for the cannabis industry. The company was founded by Ron Basak-Smith and James Eichner of the University of Colorado Boulder and quickly moved to Canopy Boulder accelerator where they developed Sana into what it is today.
In addition to landfill waste, one of the biggest problems with traditional packaging companies is their outsourcing of production to overseas, often to countries with poor environmental regulations.
Sana addresses this trend by manufacturing only in the United States to eliminate this transportation waste. Sana’s real innovation, however, is in their packaging. They produce sleek, durable, hemp-based plastic which is only plastic in name as it is made with 100% hemp material. Hemp is an excellent material choice as it’s sustainable and regenerative, requires less water than many other industrial crops and is naturally insect resistant, which means it doesn’t require harmful pesticides to grow. Additionally, the plants themselves sequester tons of carbon dioxide and also make excellent rotational crops which helps rejuvenate the soil.
Visit Sana Packaging at https://www.sanapackaging.com/
HISIERRA are makers of earth-friendly, cannabis-compliant, and kid safe exit bags for cannabis retailers who need secure bags. The bags themselves, while they appear to be just like other exit bags are made of sustainably and renewably farmed non-GMO sugarcane. These bags thus conform to ASTM 6866 sustainability requirements making them some of the greenest exit bags on the market.
Additionally, their products made with manufacturing processes that only use 100% renewable wind power. HISIERRA’s factory is LEED certified and uses zero fossil fuels in their production process. They are also located in the United States, employing locally and eliminating harmful shipping waste that comes with offshore production.
All of HISIERRAs bags are certified child-resistant and have been tested to a Child Safety Standard ASTM D3475 and also meet 16 CFR 1700.20 criteria, making them some of the most legally compliant cannabis bags on the market.
Combining the facts that the bags are made green, in green factories, locally, with wind-energy earns HISIERRA is truly on the cutting edge of responsible cannabis packaging.
Visit HISIERRA at https://hisierrabags.com/
FunkSac is one of the most well-known cannabis bag makers on the market. They were one of the first to market their products directly at the burgeoning legal marijuana industry and it has paid off enormously in brand recognition.
FunkSac’s biggest claim to fame, besides their funky name is their odor-free bags. They use a patent-pending odor-blocking technology that locks in even the dankest of scents. They have received FDA approval to market their products as complete odorless storage solutions for flower products and other raw cannabis material.
Based out of Denver, Colorado, FunkSac is a veteran owned business that manufactures its products locally. This cuts down on transportation waste which is a common problem in the packaging industry.
FunkSac bags are robust in their child safety standards, having ISO certified testing to back up their child-proof claims. The bags are meet legal compliance requirements for “tamper evident” bags, which is great for any cannabis service that delivers or ships their products.
The bags themselves are also made of eco-friendly materials and are fully recyclable as well. They make a variety of bag sizes for a variety of purposes including bags for cultivators, bags for consumers, bags for drying and curing product, and bags for processed edibles.
Visit FunkSac at https://www.funksac.com/
Nitrogen Cannabis Packaging or just N2 Packaging for short is one of the most innovative yet familiar packaging companies currently serving the cannabis industry. CEO Thom Brodeur said sustainability has been an anchor of the company’s business strategy. “100% recyclability is just table stakes for us,” he said.Where others focus on what was, and what is currently the norm, N2 Packaging is focusing on cutting edge, patented solutions for the future.
Their most recognizable product is an aluminum metal tin that is sealed and opened just like a can of sardines with a metal pull top. Flower manufacturers love this packaging because it can be nitrogen purged and hermetically sealed to keep even pharma-grade organic product fresh through the delivery chain. Because the tops are metal pull tops and the units are air sealed they are also very obviously tamper-resistant. The metal containers are extremely durable, can be re-used and keep in freshness for a much longer time when compared to other more eco-unfriendly plastic products.
Visit N2 at: https://n2pack.com/
Original Green Containers or OG Containers for short, was founded out of a feeling many of have had walking the streets of legal states; empty plastic dispensary containers everywhere. Not only is litter of all kinds ugly and potentially dangerous for wildlife, plastic weed containers littering the streets will continue to do so, forever, or until someone picks them up.
OG Containers aims to tackle this problem by producing degradable starch and hemp biopolymer containers. Based out of Newberg Oregon OG Containers manufacturers locally to reduce environmental impact and their containers will completely degrade over the course of about a year.
Visit OG Containers at: https://www.ogcontainers.com/
If sustainable packaging sounds like something you would like to explore for your cannabis packaging design project please reach out for more information.
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