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Why rigid federal rules make marijuana containers really hard to recycle

May 17, 2019

The cannabis growers who had to design cannabis containers faced a long, rigid set of federal rules, and not much time to figure out how to comply with them.

The cannabis growers who had to design cannabis containers faced a long, rigid set of federal rules, and not much time to figure out how to comply with them.

The containers have to have a matte finish, opaque or translucent and be child-resistant (and there are a whole separate set of rules for what that means). The rules go so far as to forbid certain kinds of ink.

“The packaging is very regulated,” says Hilary Black, chief advocacy officer at Canopy Growth.

“It has to be childproof. It has to be smellproof. It has to be waterproof, and it has to be food-grade. To meet all of those requirements, we ended up with multi-materials in the packaging, and that’s the thing that makes it difficult to recycle because it requires manual separation. Our municipal recycling programs and facilities are not able to handle that.”

Many local governments Global News contacted disagreed, saying they could recycle empty plastic cannabis containers if residents put them in the blue bin. (In Ontario, most municipalities we talked to said they couldn’t deal with black plastic, but other colours were fine.)

However, Black says, they are wrong.

“From the photos, those recycling facilities may not understand that there are layers of material in there, and they’re just looking at the black plastic. There’s a layer of tin inside as well.”

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