Tilray Brands, a Canadian cannabis producer, has taken a groundbreaking step to combat the environmental repercussions of single-use plastics in the marijuana sector. The problem with cannabis-related waste and single-use plastics isn’t just a concern in Canada but extends to other international markets, including the United States.
This decision by Tilray, covering both their packaging and product components like pre-rolls and other weed accessories, is seen as one of the first significant commitments by a major Canadian cannabis firm to reduce plastic usage, potentially motivating other players in the industry to adopt biodegradable cannabis packaging.
The Environmental Impact
With the 2018 legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, the environmental consequences have become more apparent. A recent government-led study highlighted packaging waste as one of the primary environmental concerns. The report from October discloses that only a fraction of plastic cannabis packaging undergoes recycling. Vaping cartridges and batteries introduce further recycling challenges due to their complex composition involving metals, glass, and electronics.
Interestingly, the Canadian cannabis industry has been producing more than it can sell. Data from 2022 shows that out of 50.4 million cannabis extract products packaged, only 40.8 million were sold, leaving a surplus of almost 10 million products in this category alone.
Health Canada’s Stance on Compliant Packaging
While Health Canada doesn’t monitor the volume of packaging used or discarded in the cannabis sector, its rules predominantly focus on public safety. It mandates compliant packaging with a focus on child-resistant and tamper-evident containers. However, the regulator does not impose any requirements for recyclable packaging for cannabis products. They remain open to innovations, encouraging environmentally conscious packaging options as long as they fit within regulatory boundaries.
Tilray’s Progressive Shift
Beginning its journey towards sustainable cannabis packaging, Tilray will first integrate this change into its widely-recognized Good Supply brand. Later in the year, brands Riff and Broken Coast will also join the eco-friendly initiative. Tilray, as a market leader in Canadian cannabis, hopes to set a precedent that competitors may follow.
Acknowledging both environmental and business benefits, Tilray’s research indicates that consumers exhibit a 50% higher likelihood to opt for a product housed in sustainable packaging. This move comes after Tilray’s earlier commitment in a January conference, where CEO Irwin Simon declared the company’s intent to transition all flower, vape, and pre-roll packaging to hemp by 2023, aiming to divert 158,000 kilos of plastic from landfills.
Among the sustainable initiatives under the Good Supply brand are:
- Eco-friendly packaging: Introduction of “hemp tubes” for pre-rolls and 1-gram Pax Pods cartridges.
- 510 vape cartridges: The cartridges will now feature hemp-composite mouthpieces.
- Alternative to plastic bags: Tilray will now use bags crafted from recycled materials for its whole-flower products, projecting a diversion of 38,000 kilograms of plastic waste from landfills every year.
The Bottom Line
Tilray’s strategic shift showcases the potential for large-scale change in the cannabis industry, aligning business objectives with environmental stewardship. As a listed company on the Nasdaq and Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol TLRY, its efforts can set the tone for a greener cannabis industry in the years to come. Similarly, as demand for more eco-friendly packaging rises, we can only expect more leading brands to follow in Tilray’s footsteps and adopt sustainable business practices.