Recyclable packaging is a no-brainer for today’s cannabis brands, as more consumers prioritize sustainability in their product choices. Cannabis products attract more environmentally conscious buyers, so there’s nothing to lose by making your cannabis products more appealing to this growing market segment.
We know that recyclable materials are excellent for the planet and benefit us all, but how should cannabis users recycle their packaging materials practically and efficiently?
Today, we’re outlining the full range of recyclable packaging materials used in the cannabis industry and offering guidance to recycle and reuse them correctly.
The details will change based on your region and practical limitations. Still, these tips will guide you in your recycling objectives, making the most of the materials that protect and preserve your favorite cannabis products.
Cannabis brands will also benefit from this guidance, helping to formulate more effective and eco-friendly packaging solutions.
Which Cannabis Packages Are Recyclable?
A smart recycling program starts with knowing which cannabis packaging materials are recyclable.
While the sustainability trend has caught on in many marketplaces, some brands still use non-recyclable materials for packaging their products. Customers should know which ones are green-listed for full recyclability.
Plastics labeled #1 through #7 can be recycled in most districts, including rigid plastic containers, bottles, and milk jugs. However, certain cannabis products come packaged in basic polyethylene, which can be included in this mix of recyclable plastics.
If cannabis brands use packaging solutions like the Secure Sack Eco, they can confidently print the recycle symbol on their label and assure consumers that the package can be recyclable.
These bags come with all the features you’d expect from quality cannabis packaging, including barrier protection against moisture and oxygen. Plus, brands can trust the lab-tested child-resistant seals of Dymapak’s bags and pouches, even with the sustainability boost.
Twist-top tins are a favorite in the world of cannabis, offering supreme barrier protections and a slim, discrete format for holding all sorts of goodies. However, “tin” can sometimes be a misnomer, given the wide range of materials used in this format.
The good news is that many brands still use eco-friendly containers, such as Dymapak’s lab-certified SecuriTin.
This package is ideal for storing cannabis products for maximum privacy, protection, preservation, and user convenience. The child-resistant seals are heavily tested and approved, and the materials are curbside recyclable for minimal confusion or hassle.
If you plan to distribute cannabis products in tins or similar containers, be sure to have the eco-friendly stamp of approval that you can pass on to your customer base.
Plastic Tubes and Vials
Many cannabis goods, particularly pre-rolled flower products, are often packaged in plastic tubes for streamlined organization and convenience. Things can get hazy when using such tubes, vials, and thin cylinders, however, since recyclability is not always guaranteed.
From a brand perspective, knowledge is power when creating plastic packaging solutions. When possible, choose materials like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) to contain cannabis flower and pre-rolls in these formats.
On the other hand, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and many types of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) are not usually recyclable, so avoid them if better options are available.
Polypropylene (PP) is another semi-recyclable material that requires more complex processing that most consumers won’t be able to facilitate.
The classic cardboard container is a standard in recycling and remains the best sustainable material in volume and efficacy. Since cardboard is so widely used and readily recyclable, customers are accustomed to setting it aside for recycling and are more likely to reuse it in different ways.
For brands, this means using cardboard mailers and packaging layers for cannabis products when feasible. However, cardboard and paperboard don’t offer the best barrier protections and aren’t always smell-proof, meaning a more robust inner layer of another material is typically needed.
Glass Jars and Bottles
Glass is an old-school method for cannabis storage, so it makes sense that some brands use it for packaging everything from dried flower and concentrates to edible gummies and baked goods. Sustainability is an added bonus, as glass is highly recyclable in nearly every format.
The one downside of glass is the need for additional layers of packaging protection due to the possibility of breaking during shipping or storage.
Sustainable fortification materials are harder to come by. Still, cannabis brands should always be sourcing new ways to keep the glass safe throughout the supply chain without relying too heavily on non-recyclables.
How Can You Recycle Cannabis Packaging?
Recycling is a fairly intuitive process for most people, but not all parts of the world place equal emphasis on recycling services and infrastructure. For cannabis users, some extra research and effort may be required to achieve a higher recyclability rate.
Still, the following steps should provide the framework for most regions and states.
1. Sort Recyclable Goods Upfront
Every effective recycling program starts with sorting, so get used to identifying symbols on various forms of cannabis packaging. You’ll soon know the subtle differences between different types of polyethylene and why certain types are more recyclable than others.
We suggest using a dedicated bin in your home or a covered can outside to keep your recycling in one place throughout the week. This way, you won’t experience clutter or be tempted to offload extra bits and pieces into the nearest dumpster.
It may help to keep a chart of plastic numbers or green-lit materials on the fridge to get you up to speed when first starting to recycle.
2. Fully Rinse and Clean Cannabis Packaging
Even the most subtle cannabis products can leave pungent odors and residue on the packaging, so make sure to scrape off any remaining materials and do a deep cleanse before committing items to the recycle heap.
It doesn’t need to be perfect, but the closer you get to 100% clean and odor-free, the better. This is particularly important when dealing with sticky concentrates and oils, which can negatively impact recycling machinery and cause expensive issues for operators.
This is an excellent practice to implement for all recyclable goods. Moreover, it will motivate you to reuse materials more readily and squeeze more value from every component available.
3. Don’t Take Chances
Are you not sure whether a specific packaging material can be recycled? It’s best not to take chances and dispose of any “question mark” pieces rather than making a mistake.
In other words, only recycle packaging materials if you’re 100% certain it’s safe for recycling since workers and operators will need to pick out unusable materials at the recycling center.
It’s better to simply dispose of “question mark” components with your cannabis products, dropping them in with the rest of the standard trash materials. You’ll find that many supplementary packaging materials (styrofoam, bubble wrap) are non-recyclable, so either try to minimize these or find ways to reuse them in the future.
4. Find Your Recycle Center
Recycling pickup services are less common than you might think in the United States, and in some cases, they require an extra monthly fee for those in residential neighborhoods.
In this case, try to organize a recycling run at least twice a month to bring designated materials to the nearest recycling center.
Curbside drop-off might also be available at nearby grocery stores, so search your area to see which services are accessible. Recycling all your packaging materials may not always be convenient, but the occasional trip is better than nothing.
Can You Reuse Cannabis Packaging Materials?
If you can’t manage to recycle 100% of your cannabis packaging, find productive ways to reuse the materials around the house before disposing them.
This might mean repurposing glass jars to make kombucha or a cannabis-infused drink or bringing tins or tubes back to the dispensary to re-up on your favorites. Get creative with your materials and see what you can accomplish!
This doesn’t just benefit your environmental footprint, but it can also score you discounts at your local shop. See if they offer any incentives for customers to reuse their packaging materials, and you may be pleased to discover some bonuses.
Customers Trust Sustainable Cannabis Brands
More than ever, sustainability is top of mind for cannabis consumers, whether in the market for flower, concentrates, edibles, or any other product type. This means cannabis brands can benefit from a commitment to sustainable practices and packaging.
From a business and ethical perspective, choosing eco-friendly packaging solutions makes sense. Customers love knowing they’re on the right track for a sustainable future, and retailers are likelier to feature these products to present a green image to the public.
Dymapak is here to help formulate eco-friendly packaging solutions for any cannabis product type. We’ve got the materials, formats, and experience to make your packaging eco-friendly, so reach out today and let’s begin.
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