Marijuana Business Magazine November-December 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | November-December 2019 142 C annabis companies across the country are discovering it’s not easy being green. But in an era that sees consumers increasingly demanding sustainability, the industry is trying to figure out ways to minimize its impact on the environment. Whether they’re growing marijuana or making edibles, cannabis growers and manufacturers face a variety of challenges in keeping their environmen- tal footprints as small as possible. Grow- ing cannabis affects air quality, uses a lot of energy and water and produces waste. In response, cannabis companies are scrambling to show they are green. But there’s a rub. Many companies are believed to make sustainability claims that aren’t necessarily accurate. The practice, known as greenwashing, muddies the waters for consumers who are trying to choose products produced in an environmentally friendly manner. “In a normal, functioning market, the pathway to go green is more apparent than in the cannabis industry,” said Derek Smith, co-founder and executive director of Portland, Oregon-based Resource Innovation Institute (RII), a nonprofit research organization that quantifies the natural resource impacts of regulated cannabis. “Typically, a producer or a brand that wants to make a claim that they’re green makes those claims based on data or best practices or standards—all of which are largely missing in the cannabis industry.” STEPS TOGOGREEN Kaitlin Urso, an environmental consultant for small businesses for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, breaks sustainability in cannabis into four categories: energy use, water use, air quality and waste. When it comes to energy, she said, not only is conservation environmentally Alicia Frazier, Kaitlin Urso and Dr. Daniel Bon from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment collect air samples within a post-harvest processing area at a marijuana cultivation facility. Photo courtesy of CDPHE With consumers increasingly demanding products that are sustainably produced, cannabis businesses must implement environmentally friendly practices to stay competitive. Here are some ways cannabis cultivators and manufacturers can help the planet: • Track your energy use and schedule equipment to run outside of peak demand times. • Use fans to control the climate without resorting to energy- intensive industrial air conditioners. • Invest in an automated irrigation system that eliminates overwatering and provides precise nutrient dosing. • Reduce air pollution at cultivation facilities by sealing the grow space and controlling air flow through carbon filters. • Reduce air pollution from extraction facilities by maintaining all storage devices and preventing leaks. Don’t dispose of solvents through direct evaporation or spillage. Greenwashing