Legal marijuana could become less of a strain on Colorado’s environment if the pot industry embraces a new set of waste removal and packaging rules — but not without a three-way tug-of-war between saving money, preventing black market sales and encouraging environmental sustainability.
Leftover marijuana plant matter isn’t your typical twigs and leaves. Because of the plant’s intoxicating properties, commercial growing operations in Colorado can’t just throw stems and unusable flower in an alley dumpster, as if they were backyard tree trimmings. Marijuana production facilities must record every step of a marijuana plant’s life in the state’s seed-to-sale (and apparently post-sale) tracking system, including how all of the unused plant matter and product is mixed with such materials as sawdust, mature compost, bleach, coffee grounds, sand, glass or shredded paper — as long as the marijuana to waste ratio is 50/50.
But this mix not only kills composting capabilities, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment, but doubles the waste that marijuana businesses send to the city dump, landfills and pick-up services. In 2019, CDPHE data notes, 3,650 tons (7.3 million pounds) of marijuana plant waste was produced by the state’s pot industry, with that number increased to 7,300 tons in order to meet the 50/50 requirement. [Read more at Westword]