Across the board, one of the biggest complaints that licensed cannabis shops in Penticton receive is that the packaging of products is excessive and unnecessary.
Issues such as plastic containers inside boxes remain a talking point when customers go to purchase a product, and some managers say it sometimes turns customers away.
Cannabis suppliers across the country are required by law to present the correct labels and warnings on their products, which takes up space and creates excess packaging.
However, an initiative by a cannabis supplier in Canada has allowed shops across Canada to go green.
Since before shops started to open in the Okanagan, Terracycle, a private U.S. recycling business, partnered with Tweed, a cannabis supplier based out of Ontario, to recycle any and all cannabis packaging purchased from a licensed retailer. Aside from some vape-related products, the program accepts many forms of packaging including outer plastic packaging, inner plastic packaging, tins, joint tubes, plastic bottles, plastic caps, and flexible plastic bags.
The program accepts products from both individuals and retail partners in every province except the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut.
Locally, cardboard Terracycle bins can be seen near the front counter of licensed retail shops. Once a bin is full, retailers package the waste into a box and send it to Terracycle via UPS, where the packaging and plastic is broken down and refurbished into new products.
The four licensed stores in Penticton are among approximately 450 other cannabis stores in partnership with Terracycle.
Spiritleaf owner Matt Bolton said so far, they have shipped approximately 18-20 bins worth of recycled products since they opened in August.
“Packaging has been… one of the biggest complaints that we hear here in the legal market,” he said. “The fact that we do offer that program, we’ve offered it pretty much since the first week of opening; that has been great.”
The Terracycle program accepts most things except for some vaping products such as the batteries and cartridges, however Spiritleaf has taken it upon themselves to offer recycling of this product.
“We’ve basically taken it on ourselves where we said, we’ll hold onto it all, until it’s figured out where they are going to go, and then we will dispose of it properly,” said Bolton.
Cannabis Cottage supervisor Corey Young said the reactions from customers when they find out about the recycling program are very positive. He stated one of the main complaints they receive is also about packaging.
“There is a lot of excess packaging,” he said. “And unfortunately a lot of the companies are slow to come out with new versions. So in the meantime, I believe it’s (Terracycle) essential.”
Although he couldn’t confirm an exact amount, Young estimated they have collected about 800 packages from customers in the past month.
“I think other companies should follow Tweed’s lead in creating their own recycling programs as well,” he said.
In October, the Tweed/TerraCycle program announced the collection of over one million pieces of used cannabis packaging from across the nation, recycling over 22,000 pounds of plastic containers, tubes, and bottles.
Bud-tender at Greenery Cannabis Boutique, Geoffrey Small, said customers seem relieved when they find out what Tweed and Terracycle are doing to help mitigate the issue of excess packaging.
Although some companies package less than other, Green Gaia Cannabis Co. manager Katerina Bakalos said the recycling program is a great service to have, and well-received by customers. So far, Green Gaia has collected thousands of product packages.
In conversations with some licenced producers, Bakalos understands that changes are coming with regards to packaging. This, she explained, is the focus for several producers, now that the 2.0 products, or edibles and concentrates, are on the shelves. In late December, retailers around Canada, including Penticton, started to receive 2.0 cannabis products.
“I’m sure once a few of the producers do it (repackaging), it’s going to start a domino effect,” said Bakalos. “Because I do believe, some of the packaging, people won’t buy it (because) it’s too thick of plastic or too big a box, that kind of thing.”
“Plastic containers within a box, it’s almost like double-packaging.”
Looking forward, all shops expressed their excitement as their first full summer season approaches.
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