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True Sustainability in Cannabis Packaging Is Still Out of Reach

The cannabis industry is arguably one of the biggest contributors to waste that finds its way into landfills in the United States. This waste is mostly generated from materials used for cannabis packaging. As the world becomes more cautious about the environment, there is a need to address sustainability issues. Moreover, while there are efforts toward this, the industry is yet to reach true sustainability. So, what are the challenges standing in the way of finding true sustainability and what can cannabis companies do to achieve sustainability goals?

Why is true sustainability difficult to achieve?
The industry players realize the need to have sustainable packaging. However, the following inhibits cannabis companies from reaching sustainability goals.

1. Packaging regulations

The cannabis industry has for long been governed by strict regulations. And, while they vary from state to state, regulations on packaging limit the companies’ options for packaging. In a bid to protect children, most states require cannabis products to be packaged in sealed, opaque, and child-proof packaging. Packaging regulations also protect customers. Each packaging is required to keep the product dry and fresh and be tamper-proof. For these reasons, cannabis companies result in packaging materials that aren’t sustainable. For instance, the use of plastic for packaging allows these companies to easily comply with these regulations. Plastic is durable and versatile. It allows cannabis companies to develop child-resistant and attractive packaging for shelf appeal and is strong enough to protect the products inside.

2. Labeling regulations

Appropriate labeling is required on every package. These regulations lead to excessive packaging where the product is small. For instance, in the case of a vape cartridge, the cannabis companies package them in a tray and a cardboard box on top. To fulfill the labeling regulations and meet the personal branding goals, the box size can be overly excessive. This can mean packaging only representing over 90% of the whole package. In addition, the labeling sticker can be big depending on what the state requires to see on the package: the production and expiry dates, the patient’s name, and a warning text. Some states even specify the type of font to be used on the stickers. Unfortunately, the stickers are made from unrecyclable materials, which reduces the recyclability of the packaging.

3. Upfront cost

The cost involved in using sustainable options in cannabis packaging is extremely high. Take a company that uses a glass tube with a cork for packaging pre-rolls, and the tubes are placed in childproof paper boxes. This can mean paying a lot upfront. Moreover, while surveys show that consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, this is not always guaranteed. Unfortunately, the cheaper options aren’t always sustainable.

The steps towards sustainability

Even with the limited options, cannabis companies can take small steps to reduce the carbon print associated with packaging. So, what can they do?
● Adopt sustainable packaging – The need for sustainable cannabis packaging has led to increased innovation toward finding a solution. It is now easy to find sustainable packaging albeit expensive. Cannabis companies need to commit to paying more upfront in a bid to protect the environment.
● Source locally – Where the packaging is sourced also contributes to the packaging-associated carbon print. Sourcing overseas translates to more energy used in the transportation process. Companies can reduce this by sourcing locally.
● Involve the consumers in the fight – Cannabis companies can sensitize the consumers to reuse the product packaging such as tins after using the product. However, they have the task of developing appealing and strong packaging to encourage consumers to upcycle. In addition, they can start a recycling program and encourage consumers to return the packaging to them for recycling.

Working with the experts

Embracing sustainability is instrumental in building brand loyalty and increasing sales. Working with a cannabis packaging company can be a great step towards achieving sustainability for cannabis companies. Find a supplier who not only understands the market but is also an expert in sustainability matters. A knowledgeable packaging company can help you achieve packaging solutions that serve the design functionality, meet regulatory requirements and meet sustainability goals affordably.


Cannabis packaging has a long way to go in achieving true sustainability due to the packaging and labeling regulations that companies have to comply with. Moreover, while there are sustainable options, they are quite expensive and often limited. However, this shouldn’t deter the efforts of finding a solution. Cannabis companies need to be ready to part with more money for sustainable packaging. Moreover, working with packaging suppliers who possess sustainability expertise can be a step closer to finding a solution.

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