When a customer walks out of your retail dispensary, they leave with a lot of packaging in their hands. At the very least, there’s the product itself, which is housed inside of childproof packaging that must be big enough for all the legally-mandated labels, which is then placed inside of a childproof exit bag. Much, if not all, of that packaging is likely to end up in a landfill.
The legal cannabis packaging requirements exist for good reason, namely making it harder for children to access cannabis products, but they result in a lot waste. Customers are becoming more and more aware of this not-so-green truth and the need is increasing for businesses to do all they can to save the planet. It’s important for every cannabis retailer to do their part to reduce waste on behalf of the communities they service. Luckily, this simple sustainability gesture can also help differentiate a retailer from its competitors.
5 Ways to Reduce Waste at Your Cannabis Retail Store
Just like grocery store shoppers who bring reusable bags, cannabis retail shoppers want ways to reduce their waste footprint. By implementing some of the sustainability practices outlined here, you can not only do what’s right for the planet but engender appreciation from your customers.
1. Implement a Recycling Program
Legal blind spots and limitations in the cannabis industry often give rise to innovation, from banking to recycling. Since laws require so much packaging, cannabis retailers are taking sustainability into their own hands by implementing an in-store recycling program. Customers bring in previously-used doob tubes, pop-top containers, and glass jars and toss them in an in-store drop box.
Retailers can then partner with cannabis recycling providers who will make the waste usable. Interestingly, some cannabis producers offer their own waste recycling programs in which they provide a drop box to a retailer and offer a discount on future wholesale orders dependent on the amount of packaging recycled at their store. Some retail stores report diverting more than 75 lbs of recyclable material from landfills in just over two months!
2. Provide Postage-Paid Envelopes to Mail Old Cartridges
Unfortunately, sometimes the law clashes with well-meaning dispensary recycling programs. This is especially true when it comes to disposable vaporizers and cartridges, one of the fastest growing consumption methods on the market. In states like California, the law doesn’t allow customers to bring already purchased cannabis products back into stores unless they’re defective. And in Colorado, it’s illegal to have any open or used remnants of a cannabis product on a licensed premises.
To tackle this sustainability obstacle, some cannabis retailers offer postage-paid envelopes. A customer can use it to mail old vape pens and cartridges to a participating recycling center. When a customer purchases a vape pen or cartridge, they have the option to take home a postage-paid, pre-addressed envelope so they can mail it off when finished.
3. Offer Small Discounts for People That Reuse Exit Bags
Exit bags provide an added layer of childproof packaging that many legal cannabis states and provinces require. Every purchase must leave the cannabis retail location in one of these exit bags or the dispensary can face steep fines. The problem is that most of these exit bags are made of thick plastic that is bound to sit in landfills for decades.
To solve this problem, a retailer can provide discounts to customers who bring their exit bag back for a future purchase. These discounts don’t have to be substantial to be impactful! Five to ten percent off of a purchase is enough to encourage the habit and make customers feel like they’re being rewarded for doing their part.
4. Partner With Companies That Care About Sustainability
In choosing sustainable partners, cannabis retailers can fight the waste problem before it ever reaches their store. Whether it’s using sustainable growing techniques or glass jars instead of plastic containers, many cannabis producers are placing sustainability at the forefront of their operations.
When vetting potential wholesale partners, retailers should be prepared to ask questions regarding waste reduction. Is their packaging the most sustainable it can be? Do they offer a recycling program? Are their farming techniques sustainably sound? Asking these questions will help you partner with suppliers who align with your waste reduction goals.
5. Include Waste Management & Recycling Information on Your Website
Perhaps sponsoring a recycling program is cost prohibitive or you need a short-term solution while you formulate a long-term waste reduction plan. At the very least, it’s important to include recycling information on your website so the conscious customer can easily find resources.
Create a section on your website with the address, phone number, and hours of all the approved recycling centers near your retail location. This is a very cost-effective way to point your customers in the right direction and help reduce waste at your retail cannabis store.
Cannabis retailers have a responsibility to their communities and the planet. By implementing waste reducing practices at your cannabis dispensary, you can differentiate your store from the competition and promote social responsibility.
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