The legalization of cannabis for medical purposes and/or recreation in more states has fueled interest in cannabis packaging in recent years. And now legal marijuana cultivation is providing the key ingredient for a new, sustainable packaging material.
That material is paper made entirely from cannabis farmers’ bio-waste—specifically recycled marijuana stalks. Restalk LLC announced the first prototype of the paper in February 2016 and plans to go into commercial production this spring.
The Emerald Family Farms marijuana growers’ collective in Northern California has worked with Restalk, supplying agricultural waste for the project. Raw materials used to make the paper come from plant parts containing what Restalk characterizes as “marginal levels of psychoactive properties”—very little THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis), that is.
Lucas Hildebrand, CEO and co-founder of Restalk, addressed our questions about the new material.
When do you expect Restalk’s paper to be commercially available for packaging applications?
Hildebrand: We are expecting to have a limited run of our products commercially available by summer of 2016. We will be scaling up production during the second half of 2016, as our supply chain and demand increases.
Are you targeting any specific consumer packaged goods categories with the paper?
Hildebrand: Restalk will initially service clients within the cannabis marketplace. We feel it is an important first step to cater to the packaging needs of our emerging industry. With that said, we have had several positive discussions with brands within the music and apparel industries, and we will continue to explore as many avenues as possible with our material.
We are not exclusive to any specific industry or product. By packaging with recycled cannabis, companies from all walks of life will be making the choice to support a cleaner, more sustainable and environmentally responsible cannabis industry.
Do you have any raw-materials suppliers besides Emerald Family Farms?
Hildebrand: Yes, we do. Emerald Family Farms is certainly one of the larger contributors in our supply chain. We have positioned ourselves to mainly work with large-scale cultivators and those who wish to be proactive about their waste. Like our other suppliers, Emerald Family Farms is a forward-thinking collective of farmers who see the benefit in practically putting to use the entirety of the plant. We fully support our farmers and look forward to working with many more in the future.
As the size of farms continues to increase, so will the problem of responsibly disposing of the waste created by them.
Is Restalk’s paper recyclable, post-use, in standard municipal recycling programs?
Hildebrand: Yes, we are not adding any hazardous materials to our product that would make it unsafe to recycle; it is derived solely from recycled plant material.
Can the paper be combined with other materials, like plastic film, to create multi-layer packaging materials?
Hildebrand: We are currently exploring blended materials and will potentially have prototypes in the near future. In our efforts to create tree-free, sustainable packaging from cannabis waste, we’ve spent a great deal of time on R&D, fine-tuning our materials in various stages. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface on what is possible when we combine our products with other sustainable materials.
Can you make thicker paperboard materials out of Restalk’s paper?
Hildebrand: We can indeed use our materials to make paper products of varied thickness. Depending on client needs, we have several manufacturers we can rely upon to satisfy unique packaging requests.
Learn about the latest developments in sustainable packaging at EastPack 2016, June 14-16, in New York City.