An increasingly important topic as of late is that of sustainability. Adopting practices that help further this global initiative is a must for any modern day business. The cannabis industry has the ability to be a leader in sustainable business practices, but, like everything else, it will not be easy. With the popularity of indoor cultivation facilities, the use of chemicals in the manufacturing process, and the arduous complaint packaging requirements, there is a lot of room for improvement.
Implementing a sustainable practices plan is definitely not as simple as just setting it and forgetting it. As the cannabis industry and global environment evolves, ensuring the best practices available are being utilized will require constant assessment, evaluation, and re-calibration. Nevertheless, the following highlights some of the practices dispensaries can implement from the start.
Environmentally Conscious Dispensary Design
Working to intelligently design dispensaries to maximize sustainability outcomes and reduce overall carbon footprint is of great importance. Through collaboration with an architect and a construction firm, dispensaries can ensure that environmentally conscious design concepts are feasibly implemented into build-out projects.
For us personally, this starts with a preference of having smaller operational footprints, thereby reducing the overall consumption needed to build and operate the dispensary. Where possible, using LED light fixtures to reduce energy consumption is preferred. In areas where LED lights are not feasible, installing compact fluorescent lights will still provide greater efficiency than traditional incandescent light bulbs. Additionally, the dispensary’s ventilation system should contain the appropriate filtration technology to achieve the best air quality and sustainability outcomes possible.
Going hand in hand with the dispensary design, ongoing energy efficiency is essential for achieving environmental goals. On a quarterly basis (to coincide with various conditions due to changes in seasons), assessments of the dispensary’s energy usage should be conducted to determine priorities for improvement. In this process, all systems are checked to ensure they are operating in the proper manner, proposed energy efficiency improvements are identified, and steps are taken to implement impactful changes.
As a retailer, unfortunately there is only so much that can be done when it comes to product packaging. Because of this, it is even more important to be very diligent when determining which companies to source from (as is further described below). Although the cultivators and manufacturers take the lead on most packaging, dispensaries still have the ability to be leaders and make a positive change. One example of this includes sourcing compliant exit bags from companies such as HISIERRA, “makers of earth-friendly, cannabis-compliant, and kid safe exit bags.” HISIERRA’s bags are made of renewably farmed non-GMO sugarcane and are certified child-resistant.
Ethical and Responsible Sourcing
When obtaining cannabis and cannabis products, it is ideal to work with vendors who display the highest level of sustainability practices. Whether it be the licensed vendor’s cultivation methods (such as Regenerative Agriculture or Permaculture), packaging approach, facility design, or any other factor that contributes to a more sustainable end product, focusing on this element of inventory control will ensure that a dispensary aligns itself with the idea of a cleaner, more efficient community. Additionally, when possible, there should be a focus on sourcing products locally from the community in which the dispensary is located. Local sourcing will lower a dispensary’s carbon footprint as well as to help support other community businesses.Through interaction with the cultivators and manufacturers, a dispensary can provide meaningful feedback on ways for these organizations to improve their environmentally friendly practices together.
Comprehensive Approach to Recycling
The three R’s of Sustainability still ring true today: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. A very simple place to start is locating recycling containers throughout the dispensary for both team members and customers. Any electronic waste generated can also be collected and brought to designated centers or saved for dedicated events held within the community for recycling, whenever possible. In an effort to promote recycling community-wide, dispensaries can offer a discount program to those customers who bring their packaging from previous visits back for reuse (so long as such a program is permitted by local law). Such a program will encourage customers to play an active role in reducing waste across the board in the cannabis industry.
Our goal is to be a leader in the cannabis industry for sustainability. This is a big commitment, but one we believe is very important and is possible by staying current with new developments in sustainable business ventures, collaborating with others on ideas and areas of improvement, and incorporating best management practices to be stewards of the environment. There is only one earth, so let us all work together to leave it in a better place than we found it.