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Going Green: How these companies are creating a more eco-friendly cannabis packaging market

May 28, 2019

As far as ancillary markets go in the cannabis industry, the market for cannabis packaging is coming into its own. The packaging market could be worth over $20 billion by 2024, according to the latest report released by Zion Market Research. The report covers key players on this side of cannabis, including California’s KushCo Holdings (OTCQB:KSHB) and Sana Packaging, touching on how these companies are using sustainability to build up the cannabis packaging market.

A closer look at the cannabis packaging market:

Because state laws require that different types of cannabis products be packaged a specific way, licensed companies are responsible for developing packaging that not only protects cannabis products from contaminants but is also child-proof and tamper-evident.

In the United States, there are little restrictions on what packaging can look like in terms of colors and designs used. Stricter regulations are in place in Canada, where packaging cannot include much more than a regulatory label.

[North American cannabis companies look for eco-friendly waste management solutions]

But the cannabis packaging industry is more than just boxing and shipping. Zion notes in their report that the development of new packing and shipping technology is going to be a major influence on how quickly this market grows. The way consumers are using cannabis is changing, and the industry is evolving to meet the growing demand for packing things like cannabis oils and vape cartridges.

More than that, consumers are also asking for more sustainable and recyclable packing materials, and many cannabis companies are going green to answer that call.

What does an eco-friendly cannabis packaging market look like?

One of the biggest sectors for growth in this market is in environmentally friendly packaging. Consumers want their cannabis to be packed in something that is recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, or any combination of the three.

There is even a rising trend in finding ways to use cannabis to pack cannabis, with some companies, like The Hemp Plastic Company, developing efficient technologies to turn industrial hemp into a plastic-like polymer that can be used as packing material for cannabis products.

Sana Packaging is another company that uses hemp plastic to help licensed producers package their goods. The Colorado-based startup just launched last summer, using their plant-based packaging solution as their foundation. The company sees the cannabis industry as a platform for change and is using their perspective on regenerative packaging to inspire some real-time environmental change.

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Their latest endeavor uses reclaimed ocean plastic to manufacture cannabis packaging. Sana teamed up with Oceanworks in January to develop their new line of containers and tubes. Oceanworks is known for working with corporations to help clean up, reuse, and reduce plastic waste in the ocean through their online marketplace. Sana’s new products with them just launched this spring.

“This is an incredible opportunity to help clean our oceans and protect some of our planet's most fragile ecosystems,” said Sana co-founder and CEO Ron Basak-Smith. “While hemp bioplastics will remain our core focus, ocean plastic is a problem we have to address.”

According to the press release, seven of the ten recreational states are coastal, putting the U.S. cannabis industry, in particular, a tight spot when it comes to protecting our bodies of water. As California has already updated their state recycling laws, it is safe to assume that other states will follow that same sustainability trend sooner rather than later. The cannabis industry has the opportunity now to seize a niche market, and Sana Packaging is already using that strategy to get a head start.

KushCo Holdings is using its own strategy to reduce their packaging waste. The cannabis stock signed a manufacturing and distribution agreement with SunGrown Packaging last month to develop biodegradable cannabis packaging that is specifically made from renewable resources. Kush expects to earn $12 million from this partnership within the next two years, putting a pretty hefty incentive on the idea of sustainability in this industry.

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“It is no secret that we have been working hard to transform our product portfolio to include numerous eco-friendly packaging solutions,” Kush CEO Nick Kovacevich said in April’s press release. “I am pleased to announce that our company is now … offering biodegradable, compostable, and sustainable options for our customers—a huge step forward for our industry.”

The ability to create more sustainable, eco-friendly packaging could be what sets the cannabis packaging market apart from other sectors in this industry. Packaging is often the first thing a consumer interacts with before using their favorite cannabis products. And as consumers continue to demand more eco-friendly practices and products, cannabis companies like KushCo and Sana Packaging are wise to have their brand of sustainability at the very beginning of their customer experience.

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