New Brunswick

Less packaging, more recycling, means greener weed for New Brunswick

Cannabis NB has taken steps to address one of the persistent criticisms of legal cannabis: the excessive plastic waste that comes with it.

Cannabis NB offering in-store recycling and some products in plastic-free packaging

Some cannabis products, like this single-gram offering from Ontario producer Aphria, come in sealed envelopes instead of plastic pill bottles. (Jonathan Collicott/CBC)

When cannabis was first legalized in Canada, customers immediately criticized the excessive plastic packaging that came with it. 

Some products generated as much as 70 grams of plastic and cardboard for one gram of marijuana. 

But that is starting to change. 

Some products, offered in pill containers, have shed the outer cardboard boxes and shrink-wrapped plastic seal. 

Others, such as a gram of cannabis from Ontario producer Aphria, come in sealed brown envelopes. 

Some weed producers are cutting down on plastic waste after backlash from consumers that started days after legalization. 0:51

"We are certainly mindful of the concerns raised around the amount of packaging used industry-wide, which was largely the result of ensuring compliance with the regulations under the Cannabis Act," said Andrew Swartz, a spokesperson for Aphria. 

"We are actively exploring new opportunities to streamline packaging within the existing regulations." 

Many argue that cannabis comes with too much packaging, including Greg Mac, who shared this photo online after purchasing four grams of cannabis Wednesday. (Submitted: Greg Mac)
The brown envelopes with fixed zip-locks meet Health Canada's requirements of being tamper-evident and child-resistant. 

Greener Weed 

Cannabis NB spokesperson Marie-Andrée Bolduc said the agency is also taking steps to recycle the plastic containers that are still in use.

Every retail outlet in the province now has recycling bins. 

"I think there was a willingness from the industry to respond to the need … to have recycle programs as much as possible," she said. "I know this same program is available in P.E.I., for example. So, I think this is a win-win for the producers as well as the customers." 

Cannabis NB spokesperson Marie-Andrée Bolduc, says the Crown corporation has partnered with TerraCycle to recycle cannabis containers and packaging waste. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
Cannabis NB says it's recycled a dozen crates of plastic since the program launched in March. 

Less packaging and more recycling is something Canopy Growth, a licensed producer based in Ontario, says it's aiming for as well. 

Cannabis NB says it has recycled a dozen crates worth of cannabis containers so far. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Canopy Growth, which operates its recreational cannabis division under the brand "Tweed," partners with TerraCycle, a recycling company that has brought the recycling box program to stores in seven provinces, including New Brunswick.  

"We are seven months old, so we are still very much in an infancy stage," said Courtney Langille, a spokesperson for Canopy Growth.

"It's important for us to work corroboratively about these challenges that we all share so that we can kind of stand on a united front." 


About the Author

Shane Fowler


Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.


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