It's no secret that cannabis packing is, let's just say, abundant and, frankly, not the most sustainable. One of the companies working to change all of this is Ventiv Design (www.ventiv.design). To get a better understanding on this topic, Feel State Florissant budtender Jeff talks Ventiv Account Director, Adam Israeli.
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Jeff: Adam, I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us today. I know you're busy so I’ll try and keep this short and sweet for you. I saw on your website that Ventiv Designs has 15 years of industry experience and 20 years design experience. How large is your team?
Adam: We are a team of five. That’s our core team.
Jeff: What led your team to the cannabis industry.
Adam: We had been brought on by a buddy of ours who was looking to bring in cartridges a few years back. We had some experience in China so we went overseas and basically went to every vape factory in China and found him the best carts for the best price. While we were doing that, California introduced new regulations for child-proof packaging. We saw an opportunity and we seized it.
Jeff: Are you still sourcing your materials in China?
Adam: Yes. Primarily.
Jeff: What kind of hurdles have you been experiencing along the way?
Adam: Well, from the get go, there’s the issue of finding the right suppliers to develop long term relations with. Which is the nature of any importing or manufacturing business. Finding the right materials. China...not to over generalize.. the interest in sustainable materials is not as high there amongst manufacturers vs here in America. So finding those recycled materials, those recycled plastics was a bit more of a challenge to source and get commercially viable pricing. The other issue was the development of the products. There was quite a bit of testing and regulatory issues behind child proofing so there was some deep work on that end. And then there is always the inherent challenge of developing China and getting things overseas. Especially in the last year with the nightmares that are freight going all over the world now.
Jeff: Let's talk a little bit about your products: the Pinch Pump, the Squeeze Tin, the Slider Box and the Balanced Jar. What made you decide to go with those four particular products?
Adam: We brought on a design agency and they presented us with maybe fifteen or twenty designs. We selected the designs that were the most manufacturable, that had the smallest footprints from a material standpoint, and were the most cost effective, and those we felt had the most advantage on the market.
Jeff: Are the materials that your products are made from naturally sourced?
Adam: The large driver of our materials selection was to be sustainably sourced. There are only a handful of companies that do certification, but the one we followed through with was The Forestry Stewardship Council. We worked backwards with the FRC to find our materials.
Jeff: How do you balance being sustainable with being childproof?
Adam: Inherently, there is an allure from a design standpoint to use plastic to achieve an unobtrusive child resistant mechanism. So the big challenge was to avoid plastic or limit its use in the design. So, there’s typically workarounds between resisting child lock mechanisms and developing designs around that that could avoid excess material or plastic when possible.
Jeff: Are your products multi-use or single-use in design?
Adam: You know, that’s a good question and one that is a challenge to answer across the board. Cause there’s obviously ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ that is used across the industry. I certainly want to suggest that our jars are a reusable product that you can use time and time again for your flower. I’d like to believe our other products are reusable but the most likely result for our boxes and tins and pumps is that they’ll get recycled or composted.
Jeff: Do you have any plans to allow consumers to return the empty package to you for reuse?
Adam: We don’t have any processes on our end. We typically try to help suppliers create systems like connecting them with the right recycling partners. I remember seeing some places like NY, some being floated for packaging deposits to make sure those get recycled. So we’re certainly making an effort to try and have those...we’d like to see those move forward in the industry.
Jeff: What sets Ventiv Designs packaging above the rest?
Adam: I think there's two avenues. One is the material selection we are using which we believe is beyond what the industry is using, which is where we’d like to see the rest of the industry going. I think there’s a lot of overuse of the word ‘sustainability’. Beyond that, we got what we believe is quality that helps brands be premium in a space that is riddled with oversaturated designs and unappealing packaging.