British Columbia

Vancouver's newest pot shop plans to recycle, despite provincial restrictions

Muse's owner Geoff Dear plans to take back old and used marijuana containers and encourages other stores to do the same, while still following provincial rules.

Muse's owner Geoff Dear plans to take back old and used marijuana containers, province says there are rules

Muse Cannabis in Vancouver opened on July 6, 2019 as the city's sixth licensed cannabis store. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Vancouver's newest legal cannabis shop hopes to attract customers, not only with marijuana, but with a way to recycle the packaging, despite provincial restrictions.

Last Saturday, Geoff Dear opened Muse Cannabis on South Granville. It's the sixth legal dispensary to open in the city since cannabis was legalized in B.C. in October 2018.

Dear says it took six months to get the store licensed, and he wants to make it unique by giving consumers a way to recycle all the plastic packaging that is used in the sale of legal cannabis.

"The packaging is made from some pretty serious plastic, and having that go into your normal recycling bin could lead it to going into a landfill, which in 2019 is pretty crazy," said Dear.

Geoff Dear operates Muse Cannabis in Vancouver's South Granville neighbourhood. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Cannabis packaging and containers are supposed to be heavily sealed and childproof by federal law, but that can make them hard to recycle.

Dear says he's ordered a special recycling bin from a nationwide service that collects cannabis packaging and transforms it all into pellets that can be used for other products.

"So it's a very cool way to make sure the product is safe ... and it can actually get back to the producer or be reused in a different way," he said.

Muse Cannabis operator Geoff Dear shows off some samples of cannabis packaging that he thinks should be recycled. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

According to the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, which has 12 references to packaging, a patron cannot open the original packaging of cannabis in the retail store.

Dear says he originally heard from a provincial inspection that his plan to have a recycle bin in the store could flout provincial rules.

The province declined an interview with CBC but said in an emailed statement that customers can return used packaging  — with some caveats like how and where the packaging is initially opened.  

"There is no provincial rule against a non-medical cannabis retail store participating in an in-store recycling program," wrote the Ministry of the Attorney General. 

'Cautious'

The dispensaries have to be "cautious about their handling of cannabis packing," though, because of the open container rules. Customers have to open the package outside the shop and then return it for recycling. 

Dear says he's relieved the province is supportive of his bid to reduce the amount of waste that legal cannabis creates.

"We're going to try to recycle as many containers as we can," he said.

He is asking patrons who return packaging or containers to make sure they are rinsed and clean.

"And that way there's nothing really an inspector could get upset with because there's no cannabis inside of that container that could get in the hands of a minor," he said.

The packaging can also be recycled at home with the blue bin residential recycling program, the ministry added. 

Meanwhile Dear hopes other stores in B.C. request recycling bins.

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