According to Marijuana Business Daily, retail sales of medical and recreational cannabis in the United States are on pace to exceed $12 billion by the end of 2019 – an increase of roughly 35% over 2018 – and could rise as high as $30 billion by 2023.
This increase in sales and consumption is also going to lead to additional refuse and waste, which raises the question about how to safely dispose of your unwanted product, used paraphernalia, empty packaging, or that vaporizer your sister gave you that you used a few times and stuck in a closet?
Growers and retailers face strict rules about what to do with unused product or plants, but how do consumers dispose of a broken bong or discarded pipe? What about those half-smoked joints or empty cartridges? What about all that packaging? How do you keep it all away from kids, pets, or nosy neighbors? It appears that there are few definitive answers.
California and Colorado are actively pursuing waste disposal options with the federal government, and Washington will most likely follow suit. Meanwhile, common sense and concurrent recycling rules apply.
First, contact your local retailer to see if they offer any disposal options, since some do. CannaCulture Shop in Seattle recently started a pot waste program, where the shop staff collects and properly disposes of marijuana waste, particularly discarded packaging that currently clutters the streets. They’ve created a reward system to incentivize customers, providing discounts in their stores and free sodas.
Many suggest placing broken bongs, pipes or other unwanted paraphernalia in sealed containers and dropping them in your refuse container, but this probably isn’t the best solution for the environment. You can also try selling or gifting them but be sure they’ve been cleaned, sanitized and are free of all product.
If you have empty glass containers, remove all labels, wash and recycle with your glass, or use for storing things like tooth picks or cotton balls. If packaging is plastic, look for a recycling symbol and abide by the corresponding number. Be sure to remove labels and all residue.
If you have unwanted flower or edibles, best to take it to a retailer who can dispose of it for you. Or grind it up and take it to a composting facility. In Spokane County, unprocessed marijuana waste not designated as a dangerous waste may be disposed of as regular trash at the Waste To Energy facility or North and Valley Transfer Stations.
The Barr-Tech Compost facility will accept cannabis plant material as long as written proof is provided declaring that the material has been rendered unusable per Chapter 314-55-097, and the material meets all requirements for acceptable compostable material.
If you can’t recycle your cannabis packaging or containers, and you don’t like the idea of tossing them in the trash, look for ways to repurpose them or use them in an art project. Pinterest has some great boards on art made with recycled materials.
Meanwhile, what can be done about the influx of cannabis packaging? Get involved. Keep in mind the reason there is so much packaging associated with cannabis has much to do with the rules that surround how marijuana products can be sold, and the biggest negative impact on the environment is the discarded packaging.
Be mindful, don’t toss your empty packaging on the ground or leave it around where those under age might find it. Keep it clean, and always try to keep it green!
Every state that has legal medical or recreational marijuana has a specific regulations pertaining to marijuana disposal. For more information, Washington residents and businesses can contact the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) at (360) 664-1600 with all questions regarding the waste disposal process of cannabis or cannabis products.
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