The retail industry as a whole faces plenty of challenges and choices when it comes to sustainability — from the spaces they occupy to the products they carry to the packaging they use. And as part of a young industry, Ontario’s Authorized Cannabis Retailers have a unique opportunity to face those challenges with a fresh perspective. This month, we spoke with two retailers who are making strides when it comes to reducing, reusing, recycling... and rethinking ways cannabis shops, suppliers and customers can work together to lower their carbon footprint.
A former cannabis vaporizer specialty store, Budders Cannabis in Toronto made the leap to Licensed Cannabis Retailer in the spring of 2020. Serving thousands of customers each month, CEO Igor Kolpak saw an opportunity to reduce their overall waste with every purchase, starting with the 100% recycled shopping bags they’re packed in. “Our customers appreciate our no-plastic-bag-use policy — it keeps us motivated to continue working hard to be the best example of an eco-conscious business,” says Kolpak.
Tough-to-recycle plastics can present a challenge, so Budders Cannabis set up a drop-off bin where customers can deposit problematic plastics, which are shipped out and processed weekly at specialty recycling facilities. Budders Cannabis also proudly prints customer receipts on plastic-free paper, and the shop’s cozy, streamlined space is outfitted with eco-friendly LEDs.
Part of their ongoing plan includes advocacy. “Our goal is to reduce the impact of our carbon footprint as much as possible, and we encourage Licensed Producers to do what they can to help with sustainability,” he says. “As owners who also work as budtenders, we act as the voice for our customers, and we are very transparent with Licensed Producers about our collective recycling needs.”
Spiritleaf in Toronto’s Little Italy is making long-term plans toward advocating for eco-mindfulness, sustainable packaging and even accessory recycling.
Proudly focused on the community, Spiritleaf uses 100% biodegradable bags and is working to make it easier for local cannabis users to recycle industry plastics. “We are mindful of the amount of waste produced in this industry, and we want to contribute to the reduction of this waste,” says Clifford Tindall, shop owner and manager.
Through a partnership with Kolab, Spiritleaf was the first store in the country to offer vape recycling. This shop also collects and ships other plastic packaging to specialty recycling centres outside the city.
Spiritleaf’s environmental efforts are not limited to the store. As COVID-19 restrictions ease, they will be organizing community garbage cleanups throughout the neighbourhood. And in an effort to influence fellow retailers to take up the cause, Spiritleaf has been speaking up on social media and actively engaging with Licensed Producers in conversations about reducing the plastic in cannabis product packaging. “We are proud to work with the community to help them recycle cannabis packaging more effectively and influence other retailers to do the same,” says Tindall.
How We Can All Help
We all have a part to play in reducing waste and lowering our industry’s carbon footprint. Retailers and customers alike can share this responsibility by taking a few small eco-friendly steps.
- Seek out Licensed Retailers with in-store package recycling, where customers can drop off their empty containers to be recycled.
Small Changes, Big Impact
- Retailers can choose biodegradable or recyclable paper bags in-store, but — even better — customers can use their own reusable bags when shopping.
Advocacy and Collaboration
- We can all speak up and ask for cleaner packaging options, and support the Licensed Producers who provide them.
- Make a difference in your community by organizing or participating in local garbage cleanups.