Montreal

Verdun man wants government-run cannabis agency to cut down on plastic packaging

"We're in an epidemic right now of plastic in the world, and this is a brand new Crown corporation," says Jody Aveline. "Why is it that they're choosing this method of packaging?"

'We're in an epidemic right now of plastic in the world,' says Jody Aveline, urging SQDC to go eco-friendly

Jody Aveline wants the government-run cannabis agency to take a more eco-friendly approach to the packaging of its products. (Sean Henry/CBC Montreal)

A Verdun man wants to change the Quebec government cannabis agency's approach to the packaging of its wares.

Jody Aveline, who collects recyclable material from businesses and homes, says he was alarmed when he saw the amount of plastic used to contain small amounts of the drug.

"It scared the heck out of me," he said.

"We're in an epidemic right now of plastic in the world, and this is a brand-new Crown corporation. Why is it that they're choosing this method of packaging?"

Aveline launched an online petition to raise awareness about the issue, which, as of Monday evening, had more than 400 signatures.

Far from the transparent baggies familiar to those who've bought weed in the illegal market, the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) sells dried flowers in plastic childproof bottles with an airtight seal, which are in turn packaged in paper boxes.

The SQDC gets its products pre-packaged from suppliers. When asked about the waste footprint of its products, the government-run corporation says it's in talks with producers to come up with a less plastic-heavy solution.

Suppliers say they are simply following the guidelines set by Health Canada.

Product must be childproof

Canada's cannabis legislation requires that the packaging be childproof and not be attractive to young people.

In a statement, Health Canada spokesperson André Gagnon said the government is "taking an evidence-informed, public health approach to the requirements for packaging and labelling of cannabis products," noting that the materials used in the packaging are recyclable.

However, Aveline​ said that just because you put it in the blue bin doesn't mean it won't end up in the trash, due to the fact that it may get contaminated if it's mixed with other, non-recyclable materials.

It's something he's seen first-hand, having recovered items such as books and vinyl records when he collects recycling.

Plus, he says, not all consumers even bother to separate their recycling from their regular garbage.

"It's ending up in our rivers. It's ending up in our waterways," said Aveline​.

He proposes that the government ask for the public's help in coming up with a solution — such as using glass or organic materials, including hemp, to minimize the use of petroleum products in Canada's legal cannabis industry.

With files from CBC's Sean Henry

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