Dispensary Promotes Sustainable Packaging

October 2, 2019, 5:00 PM HST (Updated October 2, 2019, 5:02 PM)
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PC: Hawaiian Ethos.

As recycling is soon to change drastically in Hawai‘i County, an island marijuana dispensary is putting into practice sustainable packaging solutions to ease the stress on the local environment.

Hawaiian Ethos was recently featured in an international publication for its sustainable approach to packaging. Ethos is one of the first companies in the US to provide 100% compostable flower packaging—a decision that was made in consideration of its direct impact on the local environment, a company press release said.

With medical cannabis being one of the newest industries in Hawai‘i, creating an industry standard for sustainability is vital, the release continued. Most medical cannabis in the nation is sold in plastic containers. This is a common practice that has trickled down to Hawai‘i, as well.

“While plastic is easily accessible and may appear cheap, we are now seeing that the long-term costs of single-use plastics are catastrophic,” the company said.

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This highlights the urgency for local businesses to develop sustainable products, packaging, and practices, along with consumers making mindful choices, the company continued. Recyclable options, long touted as the ‘sustainable’ choice, are becoming less and less feasible, making reusable, minimal and compostable packaging even more important, the release continued.

Hawai‘i County announced Tuesday, Oct. 1, that by the middle of October there will be major changes to its 2-Bin recycling program.

For over a decade, the 2-Bin recycling program has included a “mixed bin” for recycling of paper, plastic, cardboard/boxboard, aluminum/tin, and a second “glass bin” for non-HI-5 glass. Effective Oct. 16, 2019, paper and plastics will not be accepted island-wide.

The downsizing of the county’s 2-Bin recycling program will greatly affect the island by increasing the amount of waste going into landfills. Additionally, Hawai‘i County officials made an announcement earlier in the year that the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill will close sometime in 2019.

Hawaiian Ethos said in light of this news, it will take even more steps toward sustainable, environmentally-friendly business practices. The company first identified which recyclable materials are actually recyclable in Hawai‘i.

“Various materials have different rates of how likely people are to return it back to recycling streams, so that was another lens that we were selecting our packaging through,” said Amelia Sandy, product manager. “When we could, we stuck with paper and cardboard because those tend to have high return rates. I think 70% of cardboard in the world is recycled, whereas plastic is a 7–10% return rate.”

“These are all items that are technically recyclable, but we wanted to look at real-world road testing—what is actually happening with this?” she continued. “For example, we could offer a plastic weed tube. They’re technically recyclable, but they’re not out here. So, even though we could have items that are considered recyclable … there’s no real home for them here on the island other than the landfill.”

Sustainable packaging is just one of several initiatives Hawaiian Ethos has put in place to be better stewards of the earth, the release continued. Rather than opting for traditional indoor cultivation, Ethos installed translucent panels on the roof of its facility so it could grow plants under natural sunlight. The company also uses recycled water throughout its cultivation facility.

In addition to reducing the company’s environmental footprint, these initiatives have also helped Hawaiian Ethos cut utility costs, allowing them to invest in sustainable packaging solutions.

Hawaiian Ethos has listed resources on its website for other companies that are interested in making a change, the release said. Visit www.hawaiianethos.com for information on the companies that have assisted in developing their eco-friendly packaging.

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