Top image courtesy of Alpine Waste & Recycle
It may be surprising to learn that a state considered as environmentally conscious as Colorado is lacking when it comes to diverting waste from landfills. In 2016, Colorado’s waste diversion rate was only 19 percent—well below the national average of 35 percent. In August 2017, the Colorado Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission approved statewide waste diversion goals, aiming to increase the amount of waste diverted from landfills by recycling and composting over the next 20 years. The new goals challenge Colorado to meet the national average for waste diversion by 2026 and to match the current diversion rate of the best-performing states—around 45 percent—by 2036.
Even more surprising might be how well the cannabis industry is doing overall in this effort when compared to other industries, such as the food and fashion industries. But cannabis industry leaders in Colorado are striving to be better even as they deal with a patchwork of regulations from the municipal to the state level. Recently a group of cannabis industry stakeholders, including license holders, NGOs and regulators, convened in advance of the Cannabis Sustainability Symposium that will be held Oct. 17-18, to discuss issues affecting industry progress such as waste control, packaging regulations and composting/recycling both plant and packaging materials. Amy Andrle of L’Eagle, Janet Burgesser of Denver Department of Environmental Health, Certifiably Green Denver, and Laurie Johnson, Executive Director, Colorado Association for Recycling (CAFR), led the group through a discussion on challenges and obstacles specific to waste in the cannabis industry, and to map a path forward.
While a lot of attention is given to pricey energy and water reduction technologies to increase sustainability, diverting waste from the landfill is a relatively affordable way to decrease a cannabis company’s carbon footprint. And as the popularity