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Tips on How to Recycle Cannabis Packaging

Tips on How to Recycle Cannabis Packaging

Cannabis is known by many names and forms – marijuana, hashish, kief, or tinctures. It is one of the most popular recreational substances globally, only slightly behind other recreational substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. In fact, it is estimated that over 100 million Americans have tried cannabis.

Recently, cannabis has a more practical use than just for fun. More and more physicians have recommended cannabis as a prescribed herbal therapy. Doctor-prescribed medical cannabis is used to treat ailments and discomforts such as chemotherapy-induced nausea, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. In fact, dronabinol and nabilone, two cannabis extracts, are approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA)

The advent and increasing popularity of medical cannabis mean that a lot of people will be buying them. Unfortunately, cannabis is often placed in plastic containers and bags made specifically for holding such material. This translates to more waste materials to deal with.

The Challenge of Recycling Cannabis Packaging

According to shocking waste generation and recycling statistics, the US generates thrice as much waste as the global average. However, only a third of the waste generated goes into a recycling process. That’s a lot of waste materials ending up in the landfill.

The use of packaging materials for medical cannabis produces a challenging problem. You see, to ensure accidental consumption or to protect people from using the product without a prescription; federal law requires medical cannabis to be packed by licensed producers. These producers should follow very stringent packaging and labeling requirements as per legal stipulations.

According to the Federal Cannabis Act, cannabis packaging should be:

These requirements make it difficult to use biodegradable materials that can fulfill cannabis packaging requirements. Some companies attempt to make or use biodegradable containers, but these are, by far, few because of federal regulations. For now, it seems that certified plastic containers, glass containers, and resealable foil-lined packs are the only containers that satisfy the above criteria.

On another note, many companies often accept used or empty containers for recycling. For example, manufacturers of CFL bulbs often provide mail-back services so customers can send them burned-out bulbs for proper recycling. There are also zero-waste businesses wherein the customer will bring their own container and purchase a refill. In both cases, there is a degree of control over waste management.

Unfortunately, these practices do not apply to medical cannabis containers, although they are technically recyclable. That’s because federal regulations require cannabis products to be sealed with an excise stamp. Thus, manufacturers of cannabis usually do not accept reusing or refilling used containers.

How to Recycle Cannabis Packaging

Fortunately, cannabis containers are often made of recyclable plastics, usually from Plastic Codes 1 to 4. That means you can actually reuse them yourself. Here are some helpful pointers on cannabis package recycling to help keep the environment pristine:

If you can’t find a way to reuse your cannabis packaging materials and containers in your home, you might want to opt for disposal. However, before doing so, you might want to check if there are entities that accept cannabis waste recycling and your government’s rules in disposing of such materials. Here are some tips on how to do those:


Used cannabis packaging materials are some of the most challenging waste products to manage due to laws covering the use of such materials and the nature of the packaging itself. If you are using doctor-prescribed cannabis products, take heed of the tips above so you can help curb this waste problem.

Lillian Connors is a Senior Content Developer at ACT-ENVIRO, with years of experience in developing content.

Throughout her career, she always looked for ways to contribute to the environment in recycling efforts while providing valuable information with her written articles.

She’s deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainability not only makes us far less dependent on others regarding how we live and do business but also contributes to our planet being a better place to live on. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book and sip on an occasional appletini.

Tips on How to Recycle Cannabis Packaging

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