The global climate strike took place last Friday, hundreds of thousands of school strikers were joined by workers to protest the lack of climate action across the globe.
Parsl fully supports this movement, we believe that the climate emergency needs to be addressed by those in power before detrimental and irreversible damage is placed on our planet.
But we also believe that to combat climate-change effectively, we need innovation as much as we need awareness and nowhere is that more true than in the cannabis industry. This is something we have written about before in our blog about cannabis and recycling.
With the global climate protests currently taking place, we thought it would be a good time to revisit our focus on recycling and examine why it is such an important process not only for our business, but all businesses producing products that could potentially result in single use waste.
The problem we currently face
Recycling cannabis packaging is an incredibly difficult process. Due to heavy regulations placed on the packaging, there are very specific requirements for the packaging making it hard to recycle. This means that there is a lot of single use plastic produced within the industry because it is particularly hard to recycle it. But this is just one problem in one industry, when thinking about the amount of single use plastic produced at a larger scale it becomes frighteningly apparent just how major this issue is.
Think about an ordinary day in your life, you probably wake up and brush your teeth with a plastic toothbrush that will eventually end up in landfills. You make toast with a piece of bread, that would have come straight out of a plastic bag which will again, end up in landfills. Your grocery bags for the store, yet another bit of single use plastic.
We are currently trapped in a society that revolves so much around single use plastic with no genuine incentives to change our behaviour. Generating waste that we don’t see once its been thrown in the bin, leaving us blinded to the detrimental impact our lifestyles are having on the earth.
Innovation that incentivises ‘doing the right thing’
Levels of environmental awareness has never been higher. Pressure on businesses to act responsibly when it comes to their environmental footprint has never been stronger. But while the tide is turning, the best way to really incentivise people to change their habits is to make ‘doing the right thing’ the best choice for them personally.
In 2016 when talking about the solution to replacing fossil fuels Bill Gates wrote:
“In short, we need an energy miracle. When I say ‘miracle,’ I don’t mean something that’s impossible. I’ve seen miracles happen before. The personal computer. The Internet. The polio vaccine. None of them happened by chance. They are the result of research and development and the human capacity to innovate.”
His point was that to truly solve the problem we didn’t just need an alternative to fossil fuels. We needed an affordable solution. Because the best way to change people’s behaviour is to make it in their best interests to do so.
This is not a new idea. Things like container deposit schemes, where people can redeem empty containers for cash, usually result in recycling rates upwards of 85%, while countries without a similar scheme under 60%.
How Parsl is innovating recycling in the cannabis industry
As it currently operates the majority of cannabis packaging isn’t recycled. This problem is made all the worse, that due to packaging legislation that requires plain-packaging and childproof measures to be in place, in some jurisdictions cannabis can be sold with as much as 70 grams of packaging for every one gram of flower.
The key problem is that cannabis packaging needs to be treated separately before it can be mixed in with regular recycling. Because there is no incentive to centralise this collection it rarely happens.
Parsl is trying to change that with through our recycling rewards program.
As part of our cannabis packaging ecosystem we have initiatives to centralise the collection of cannabis packaging both in registered (licensed) dispensaries and collection machines. Consumers who participate in this will be given reward points that can be redeemed for products within the industry from participating businesses.
The rewards will be funded by government programs and participating business’ who can use the collection machines to drive repeat customers to their business.
A centralised collection point will also help to incentivise cannabis specific recycling companies to operate as the logistics of collecting the material will be greatly simplified.
We hope that a program like this will encourage consumers to actually want to recycle and hopefully influence other businesses to create similar programs and we believe it is the sort of innovation that can really make a difference in changing human’s impact on the planet in a big way.