The Whole Plant Extraction Blog

The Cannabis Industry: Avoiding a Large Carbon Footprint

Sebastian DeRosia

There’s no denying that we are putting a lot of pressure on our planet. Between the everlasting rise of consumer demand and centuries of explosive industrial growth, it seems like we’ve pushed the Earth beyond breaking point. Fortunately, however, the evolving awareness of our environmental footprint has influenced consumer demand and the companies they frequent. From sustainably sourced goods to clean energy and efficient technologies, consumers are now demanding companies do something to create a better, brighter future for us all.

As an industry centred around a plant, the cannabis industry has a great deal of responsibility to keep priorities of sustainability in mind. However, since legal commercial cannabis production is relatively new, it can be a challenge at times to work in a sustainable manner, given the high cost that often comes with implementing cleaner technologies. Given a little creativity and a few small adjustments, though, the industry can help lead the way towards total sustainability.

There are numerous articles covering the amount of energy consumed by indoor grows, without even taking into consideration water waste and contamination from pesticides and other by-products of cannabis growth. We have already seen some changes in the landscape recently, with the i502 recreational cannabis industry implementing stricter guidelines about what can and cannot be used. It’s great to see that strides are being taken within the cannabis industry, because when we look at industries such as domestic produce and processed foods we see underwhelming and lax standards. As leaders among other industries, it’s on those who work in cannabis to serve as a guiding force. Such change could transform other (and all) markets.

What the Industry's Leaders Say

I spoke with AC Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs, to find out how they are leading the way in sustainability. AC has several missions, among them “to be conscious in our business to minimize environmental impact.” The company “leverages a number of ways, from using high-efficiency compressors to manufacturing our equipment locally, not out of state or offshore. Eden’s systems are also optimized for extreme efficiency, thus cutting down on the energy use for our clients. When we set out to build our systems we have always kept our carbon footprint in mind. This is even seen in our commitment to being a socially responsible business, being centrally located for easy employee/customer access as well as paying our employees well so that they can live in-city. There are so many ways companies can work to reduce carbon footprints.”

When we set out to build our systems we have always kept our carbon footprint in mind. - AC Braddock

I also recently had the opportunity to visit Quincy Green, getting a first hand look at the ways this innovative company is working hard to be a sustainable and conscious producer in beautiful Washington. In the two years they’ve been around they are the first, and currently only, producer offering cannabis in biodegradable packaging. Sustainability isn’t always the most cost-effective option for cannabis producers, but, considering the plant-centric nature of this industry, it is high time we consider the ramifications mass-production of cannabis can have on the environment. Quincy Farms is not only dedicated to producing extremely high quality, terpene-rich cannabis, but they are also moving the industry in a more environmentally conscious direction. From their biodegradable packaging to their use of “smart” greenhouse technologies they have set the bar high for their competitors. I am so grateful to see this company that puts a priority on integrity and sustainability at the core of their business model. Recent surveys have shown that consumers want to buy from trustworthy companies that are making an effort to be more sustainable, so there’s certainly a good reason for them to do so.

Sustainability isn’t always the most cost-effective option for cannabis producers, but, considering the plant-centric nature of this industry, it is high time we consider the ramifications mass-production of cannabis can have on the environment.

Everyone plays a role in the industry’s transformation. As individuals we make conscious choices about where cannabis products are sourced. As business owners, we look at our practices and focus on sustainability in our businesses.

In an industry centered on nature's gifts to humankind it is no coincidence that leaders and innovators are compelled to provide a positive example of environmentalism to other industries. The door is open to help create a shared environmental revolution.

Visit sustainableseattle.org to get more details on upcoming events regarding Sustainable business practices.

August 18, 2016