Cannabis has an issue with waste, and it’s not just the plastic, one-time-use packaging that cause it. Every year, cultivators and processors are left with tons of plant material that is either of poor quality, in excess, or has served its purpose and is no longer useful. Unfortuitously, the process of getting rid of it is not only difficult but also expensive.
When it comes to the growing of cannabis, each and every penny counts toward the total revenue. What if, however, there was a method to lower the operational costs associated with this trash while at the same time making money off of it?
Recently, Nextleaf Solutions made an announcement on the launch of a new technology that processes discarded cannabis biomass. The goal of this technology is to cut down on the amount of trash sent to landfills and to generate even more revenue from previously worthless plant material. It’s just one of the newest technology that’s helping the cannabis industry become more environmentally friendly.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH ALL OF THIS ADDITIONAL WEED?
How much cannabis is lost or wasted every year since it can’t be sold in states where it’s legal? This number is absolutely mind-boggling. For instance, between the years 2018 and 2020, Canadian manufacturers got rid of a total of 447,118 kilos (500 tons) of products that didn’t sell. Even just for the year 2020, the amount of production that was lost due to destruction was 19 percent.
According to MJBiz Daily, manufacturers reportedly did not destroy the majority of those items due to contamination concerns or other difficulties that would render them unsafe for ingestion. Instead, industry insiders revealed that makers destroyed the majority of this product due to inadequate quality, overproduction, and clogged sales channels.
In recent years, there has been an oversupply of marijuana on the legal market worldwide, not just in Canada. Both the state of Washington and the state of California are examples of other legal marketplaces that have struggled in recent years due to excessive production. According to a research published by Forbes, “More than three times as much cannabis is grown by California’s legal farmers than is sold at the state’s licensed dispensaries.”
It is impossible to maintain the product’s quality, profile, or potency over the long term, in contrast to other regulated sectors such as the alcohol industry. While a bottle of wine or vodka might last for years or even decades when stored properly, the quality of cannabis flower can begin to deteriorate in as little as a few months.
This is an issue that is only becoming worse in the numerous new markets that are still developing all over North America. Unfortunately, the market hasn’t yet found its footing, which has left a lot of manufacturers with an overstock and an issue that requires a lot of money to solve.
THE DISPOSAL OF CANNABIS WASTE Is Becoming an Increasing Financial Burden for Producers
It is a loss for the producer whether the flower needs to be thrown away because of an excess supply, poor quality, or advanced age. The costs associated with the disposal of a highly regulated and legally ‘hazardous’ commodity are added on top of the lost sales revenue as an additional burden.
Although the particulars differ from one jurisdiction to the next, the majority of trash from cannabis plants cannot be disposed of in municipal landfills or composting facilities. It is necessary to have specialized equipment and processing, both of which result in increased expenses associated with transportation and dumping.
But what if the trash from cannabis plants offered a chance to do something good for the environment? In an article published in the Environmental News Bulletin for the year 2020, authors Talia Gordner and Ralph Cuervo-Lorens make this assertion. THC and CBD are just two of the many beneficial substances that can be found in cannabis biomass, regardless of its grade. Why therefore should cannabis flowers and other plant material that cannot be sold be simply thrown away or composted if they cannot be sold?
This issue is being confronted head-on by a number of cannabis waste management companies that are just getting off the ground, and their solutions range from hemp biofuel to in-vessel digestion (specialized composting).
CANNABIS WASTE IS REDUCED AND PROCESSES ARE PERFORMED MORE EFFICIENTLY DUE TO NEW EXTRACTION TECHNOLOGY
Nextleaf Solutions is a manufacturer of cannabis vapes and oils that is regulated by the federal government. They are also one of the largest patent holders in the world in the field of cannabis technology. Its most recent patent, which was announced in April 2022, offers a system that would enable Nextleaf to “maximize its cannabis molecule yield, eliminate waste that is headed for landfills, and develop a new business vertical at minimal expense.”
To begin, the new technique utilizes heat to repurpose the cannabis that would have been discarded at earlier stages of the process. Each stage results in the release of residual cannabinoids, which increases the efficiency as well as the profitability of their existing extractions.
Second, the end product is “carbon with a desired porosity level,” also known as activated charcoal. This is the result of the process. Activated charcoal, also known as carbon, is in high demand for a wide variety of applications, including but not limited to the removal of metals, the treatment of sewage, the cleaning of air, and medicine.
This revolutionary extraction and waste management system developed by Nextleaf not only makes the extraction process more efficient by getting more out of cannabis that has already been processed or is of a lower quality, but it also turns the waste product into a lucrative secondary source of revenue. A technological advancement has made it possible to turn cannabis waste into a more environmentally friendly opportunity.
TRANSFORMING CANNABIS RESIDUE INTO CANNABIS PROFIT AS WE LOOK TOWARD THE FUTURE
The statement that was made by Nextleaf Solutions is not the only innovation in the cannabis industry that is turning waste into profit. There is a possibility that the biomass of cannabis plants could be used in the production of industrial goods such as paper, textiles, composites, bioplastics, and other such materials. Or perhaps an aquaponics facility that recycles all of its organic waste by turning it into compost on-site, which can then be used again in the growing process?
The costs of production can be reduced for cannabis businesses through the implementation of any strategy that successfully “closes the loop” and diverts cannabis biomass away from landfills and municipal composters. However, as Nextleaf and other businesses are making apparent, there are ways to take that one step further, to transform this waste in ways that make it lucrative. One such company is Nextleaf.