Sustainable Cannabis Packaging: Steps to Consider According to New York Regulations

weed packaging sustainability

New York cannabis regulators recently announced new regulations for sustainable cannabis packaging. The guidelines announced by the New York Office of Cannabis Management include marijuana labeling rules.

The rules aim to increase sustainability in NY’s recreational sector. Cannabis sector companies in the state are now required to include a minimum of 25% post-recycled end-user content in their packaging. They are also required to file a report every year that details major metrics on the execution of their sustainability initiatives. 


What the new sustainable cannabis packaging regulations mean to marijuana companies

New York’s new regulations are part of the Climate Leadership, and Community Protection Act goals plan created in 2019. NY legalized the adult use of cannabis recently and had the chance to learn from laws and changes implemented by other states. The state aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40% by the close of 2030. 

Based on the new guidelines, cannabis operators have a window of two years to write a detailed report that shows their sustainable cannabis packaging strategies. The report must include the use of non-plastic, reusable, compostable packaging or packaging that contains up to 25% post-end user reusable content. 


It is all about taking care of the environment

The new sustainable cannabis packaging rules aim to address global environmental conservation concerns. The state’s Climate Act is one of the highly zealous climate laws globally. The guidelines address concerns such as cannabis testing labs, packaging, and advertising. Operators will not be allowed to apply for licenses if they fail to submit a cannabis packaging program for environmental sustainability. Operators have a variety of options for implementing the requirements. 


Sanitizing and reusing packaging

Reusable cannabis packaging must be made using long-lasting material. It must be designed in a way that it can be used multiple times. To ensure its safety, the packaging needs to be washed and sanitized after every use. Apart from ceramic packaging, the material must be reusable at the consumer level. 

Retailers need first to inspect the packaging visually to ensure it is safe for reuse. If it looks inappropriate for reuse or could cause health danger to the end user, it should not be recycled. The inspector should look for cracks, brittles, or chips that might compromise product quality or child-resistant properties. 


Manufacturing by use of sustainable cannabis packaging materials

Sustainable cannabis packaging strictly uses materials that are not plastic, reusable, or compostable. Sustainable packaging may include materials such as paper, aluminum, cardboard, or glass. Licensees that use sustainable cannabis packaging must create an annual report and submit it to the authorities. The report shows the key metrics for sustainable packaging. It should provide details about the types of materials used, their weight, and amount sold, and the amount supplied across the state by the operator. 


Reviewing public feedback and fine-tuning the new rules

Once the New York Cannabis Control Board published the new rules, the team waited to receive comments from the public. The OCM Deputy Director of Public Health and Campaigns, Lyla Hunt, said the team is currently perusing through loads of feedback and fine-tuning the revised edition of the rules. After considering all the feedback from the public, the revised rules will be tabled before the board. 

Hunt said they aimed to consider the wide range of public feedback and create a balance in the new policy before releasing it. She said her team is happy to be the pioneers of sustainable environment regulations, and they will continue with the good efforts. One of the companies that publish cannabis news in New York is Benzinga. It had reported in the past about the new rules. 

The provisions state that cannabis packaging must not look attractive to children. All packaging must be non-toxic, child-resistant, and tamper-proof. Packaging for concentrates and edibles must have the yellow THC flower printed inside a triangle. The symbol is the Universal State Symbol of Approval. Additionally, it must contain the New York logo plus the symbol 21+ printed inside a red circle. 

Some operators in the more marijuana mature markets in the west have implemented sustainability packaging on their own. Hunt said the issues of cannabis labeling, packaging, advertising, and marketing are complex. However, there has to be a balance, and processors must think of creating products that attract users but not individuals below 21 years old. Benzinga will host a cannabis conference from April 11 to 12, 2023, at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Florida. 

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