Rollout of Legalized Weed Could Lead to Cleaner Environment

Sana Packaging

Hey, dude. I’m all about lowering our carbon footprint.

That may be the rallying cry behind companion legislation to the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) recently introduced in Albany.

State Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D-​​Greene, Montgomery) recently introduced the measure, S8203, which would require that containers for adult-use cannabis be composed of at least 50% recycled materials. It also establishes a recycling program for such containers, and with the steep demand for adult-use cannabis in New York, such a program could substantially reduce the waste produced by the new industry. 

The proposed legislation comes as many eyes are on the blossoming cannabis industry in New York – with some even predicting that the state will become the nation’s weed capital. Additionally, advancing social equity, substantially, economic investment and public health education have all been included in the MRTA language.

Some involved in the new industry say it carries the potential to advance the cause of environmental justice; rather than overhauling existing production, manufacturing, and distribution methods. That the cannabis industry can, from the beginning, be seeded within systems of production that are gentle(r) on the environment.

James Eichner, co-founder of the sustainable cannabis packaging company Sana, envisions a world in which plant-based and recycled packaging is a ubiquitous part of a fully circular economy – one in which products are reclaimed, reused, and recycled. When it comes to achieving this reality, Eichner is both optimistic and realistic.

“New York needs to set clear definitions for terms such as ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable.’ The state also needs to update its waste management system with specialized facilities that can handle the packaging materials,” said Eichner, adding a completely circular economy isn’t around the corner, but it shouldn’t be dismissed as inconceivable either. 

Currently, Eichner is working with the Sana Packaging team to prepare a portfolio of information for Hinchey’s office. While Sana doesn’t currently serve the New York market, the company is growing and Mr. Eichner believes expansion into New York is a real possibility.

The bill is still working its way through the Senate, and is currently being considered by the Environmental Conservation Committee.