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#EcoTuesday: Keeping Weed Green

vape cartridge next to marijuana buds

Cannabis is becoming legal in more places. Yay! On the other hand, its products are creating a ton of plastic waste. Noooo! Weed and oil products, like doob tubes, vape pens, and their cartridges, are quickly becoming the plastic water bottle of the cannabis world: single use, made of plastic, and ending up on the streets and in the water at an alarming rate.

Small package – big waste

So what can we do? First we have to see what the roots of this problem are:

Rules Rules Rules

Part of the deal of weed being legal is that it is regulated by the state, from grower to purchaser.  There are tons of rules in place that manufacturers and dispensaries need to follow in order to be able to sell product. Regulations in California and Colorado prohibit the business from taking back open or used cartridges. In Colorado, this means the store can’t even be a collection point to pass used plastics to a recycler. The California State Legislature seems to think that businesses will take back the cartridges, scrape them for reclaim, and sell that oil in an unregulated fashion. That is a huge stretch and a ridiculous barrier to recycling. It’s contributing to a big problem by trying to prevent a mythical one.

Size Matters

Another barrier to recycling is that the plastics are just too small.  Doob tubes, small bags, and other tiny plastics just aren’t able to be recycled by citywide services. Generally, plastics smaller than 3 inches in diameter cannot be recycled like bigger items.  So even if you put them in that bin, they are separated and thrown into landfills. In some areas, dispensaries can collect, wash, and reuse tubes and other containers, but it is not widespread.

Many cities can’t recycle these
Batteries Always Included

Batteries are another big waste product of cannabis. They are often chucked out with the unit, instead of separated by the user and recycled in the right way. This is one more problem item that ends up in a landfill.

These little guys can be recycled, but often aren’t

Ok, the problem is diagnosed, now how do we medicate this growing disease?

Communicate With Your Local Government

Messages to legislators actually work sometimes. For real! Especially if enough people do it and the person you’re writing to cares about the environment. See who represents you. Find the ones who support waste reduction and call or write to them.  Have your friends write to them. Have your mama write to them.  She’s cool with the environment, right?  She’s probably cool with weed too, so have her write! Tell your reps the rules need to be adjusted. It’s a huge problem that we can start to fix very quickly through regulation changes.

Ask them to allow stores and manufacturers to collect recyclables for cleaning and reusing. The garbage problem is bigger than any potential reclaiming of oil. Talk to your reps, they work for YOU after all.

Ask Questions

Talk to your favorite shop. Find out if they take plastic or other materials back for recycling. Talk to them about it. If a different shop does, start going to that one. You can also research your products and see if any are made from recycled plastic, which at least helps a little. If the container has a recycle symbol with a 5 on it, you might be able to recycle it!

Try some quick research of the packaging at your local shop
Buy Different Weed Products

The most important part of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, is Reduce. Most flower comes mylar baggies, but some comes in glass jars that are more easily washed and recycled.  Consider tinctures instead of oil cartridges, or very low dose edibles that come in recyclable packaging. Sure it can be a different high, but see if it works for you.  The good thing about edibles from shops is that you know how much is in each piece!

Glass containers are more easily recycled
Recycle The Bits You Can

Pop those batteries out and take them to a recycler. Often electronic shops or recycling centers will take them if they are bagged separately. Use your google-fu and see where you can drop them off. Apparently some local Hazardous Material Management Facilities (HMMF) will take pen cartridges, but it’s pretty rare.

Grow Your Own Trees

In some areas it is legal to grow your own flower. Consider doing that. Gardening is fun and therapeutic!

Your home could use some flowers

Cannabis is a medicine to many, and we know that it sometimes has to come in a certain delivery method to work comfortably. So while you may not want to change your consumption method, see what you can do to reduce its impact on the environment. It’s becoming a problem in Colorado, Washington, Michigan, California, and other states. The faster we can change the rules and practices, the faster we can recover!

How do you like to medicate?  What’s your favorite edible? Let us know below!


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