New York lawmakers want all legal weed packaging to be recyclable
A New York lawmaker has just proposed a bill to help minimize the environmental impact of the new adult cannabis packaging regulations.
New York’s cannabis legalization law has been in place for almost a month, but while it is now legal to own and use weed, retail sales are not set to begin until late 2022. The final rules for the sale of cannabis are unlikely to apply until then, but the Adult Use Act itself already sets a number of restrictions on legal pot products.
As in any other legal weed state in the country, the New York Weed Act requires all cannabis products to be packaged in child-resistant containers. And while it’s a good idea to make sure children don’t accidentally dig into their parents’ stash, this packaging is bad news for the environment. Due to child safety regulations, almost every legal weed product sold in the US is encased in multiple layers of non-recyclable, single-use plastic that will most likely end up in landfills and in the oceans.
This week, New York MP Patricia Fahy (D) proposed a new bill to mitigate this excessive plastic waste in her home state. Fahy said she created this bill to address the fact that the state’s packaging requirements will result in the legal weed industry “having an oversized plastic footprint and becoming a notable environmental issue.”
“The legal cannabis industry in the US produces about 150 million tons of waste every year. Even when marijuana packaging is recycled at home, it is often sorted out by recyclers and sent to landfill, ”Fahy wrote in a memo, according to Marihuana Moment. “While no industry is impeccable in the plastic pollution crisis, New York has a unique opportunity to prevent a new source of plastic pollution when we consider legalizing recreational marijuana.”
To solve these problems, the law requires all legal weed packaging to consist of at least 50 percent recycled materials. All legal weed dealers would also be required to collect a $ 1 deposit for every adult product sold in single-use plastic packaging. Customers could then send their used packaging back to their retailer for a refund on their deposit, and retailers would then have to recycle the plastic.
The new bill has been referred to the Assembly’s Environment Protection Committee, but is not yet scheduled for hearings or votes. Therefore, it is unclear whether or when it will move forward.
Despite this ongoing plastic problem, no US state has passed regulations to minimize the environmental impact of weed packaging. However, individual pharmacies and companies in Seattle and California have started their own recycling efforts, and several new companies are now offering weed packaging made from renewable, hemp-based bioplastics.
Canada is also grappling with its own waste problem in the weed industry thanks to its hardcore packaging requirements. Thousands of Canadians have petitioned their local governments to reduce the use of single-use packaging on plastic pots, but politics has not yet addressed the issue.