From the time we are in grade school, we have heard over and over again how important it is to recycle. However, just because we know it is important doesn’t necessarily mean that we altogether know WHY. Not only that, but it can also be tricky to know how to most effectively do so. Different types of materials, including different kinds of plastics, contain numbers called RIC or resin identification codes, that describe how each item can and should be recycled.
So, why IS it so important to recycle in the first place? Well, if an item is not recycled properly, it ends up serving only one, small and transient purpose before ending up in a landfill where it will never break down. If waste is not recycled, it negatively impacts the environment in a multitude of ways. Waste can emit greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and, therefore, climate change. Non-recycled waste can contribute to air pollution, water pollution, and put animal and human lives at risk. Recycling is also crucial because of how waste can impact and gradually erode natural environments and habitats- this can and has resulted in the starvation and extinction of certain animals and other biological organisms.
With the growth of the Marijuana industry, and the increase of packaging necessary to keep the trade afloat, the importance of individual recycling efforts has increased exponentially. Due to certain regulations put in place for the legal distribution of weed, the packaging used in the sale of Marijuana has, quite unfortunately, become harder and more confusing to recycle.
Fortunately, though perhaps a more cumbersome process, there are still very effective ways of going about recycling and reusing your plastic pop-top containers that don’t contribute to the deterioration of the environment or climate change. In an effort to make it easier to understand and get into the habit of effectively recycling, we have compiled some great tips on how to get rid of – or reuse- your discarded marijuana packaging.
Identify and clean
Start by identifying which type of plastic your item is made from. As previously mentioned, the Resin Identification codes found on various plastic items will give you all the information you need. There are currently 7 different types of plastic categories. Keep in mind that usually the weed containers you will get will be #5, it is still good to be aware that you may encounter any or all of the following.
- Polythylene Terephthalate- or polyester- is mostly used in the production of garments
- High density Polyethylene (HDPE), is one of the most widely used plastics. It is often used to product grocer bags, water and juice containers, shampoo bottles etc.
- Polyvinyl Chloride is the 2nd most widely used in the world and is found in toys, cling wrap, food jars, cleaning bottles and more
- Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is used to coat the inside of Milk cartons, make dry cleaning bottles and thin, flexible water bottles
- Polypropylene is used for many pop-top weed containers, ketchup bottles, yoghurt, etc.
- Polystyrene, why is recognized as the trade name Styrofoam
- All other plastics (of which there are thousands)
Once you have identified the RIC, you should thoroughly clean the container in a bath of soapy water to ensure that all of the glue, weed and other residue is completely eliminated.
Call your local waste station to figure out what to do with each of your containers- whether that be simply washing and recycling of the items or making a monthly trip to the waste station for adequate handling. Alternatively, there are great organizations such as M25M (https://m25m.org/pillbottles/) that repurpose containers to use as pill bottles for underdeveloped nations. Similarly, you can reach out to local pharmacies, animal shelters, or human shelters to see if they have any use for repurposing the containers for medications as well.
There are also the issue of cartridges and disposable pens to contend with. These are not easily recycled because of the mechanical and electronic components. You should call your local Hazardous Materials Management Facility (HMMF) and ask them if they accept the type of battery that you used, and about the best way to go when recycling it. Sometimes you’ll be able to do so through a regular battery disposal bin, but most times, you’ll have to plan a trip to the facility. Try to make this a collective effort and get as many friends and family members involved!
If you are not able to travel as much to deliver your recyclables or tend to be crafty, repurposing is a great way of keeping your old weed containers out of the landfills. Here are some suggestions for both plastic and glass vessels:
- Paper clip storage
- Succulent starter pot
- pen/pencil holder
- Jewelry storage
- Storing home-rolled joints/blunts
- Screw/nail storage
- Jewelry storage
- Storage for herbs
- Storage for art supplies such as glitter and mixed paint
- Candle holder
- Vessel for hand-made Chapstick or lotion
When it comes to recycling, a little definitely goes a long way and the more we can get our communities, friends and families involved, the bigger impact we can make in keeping our environments safe and effectively saving the planet. Whichever steps you take to recycle ore repurpose your discarded weed packaging, you’re doing your part for the greater good and we both appreciate and commend you!