Blunting the Cannabis Packaging Buzzkill

Curaleaf teams with TerraCycle to tackle tough-to-recycle cannabis packaging.

Joanna Cosgrove, Freelance Writer

July 10, 2024

2 Min Read
A few of Curaleaf’s recyclable cannabis products.
Above: A few of Curaleaf’s recyclable cannabis products.Curaleaf

At a Glance

  • Cannabis products are typically packaged in containers that aren’t curbside recyclable.
  • Free recycling receptacles are located inside five NY Curaleaf dispensaries.
  • TerraCycle recycles the waste into mixed plastic blends.

Business in the legal cannabis market is booming but it’s also generating a concerning amount of packaging waste. At issue is flexible packaging’s inflexibility to play nice with curbside recycling. To help curb the problem, Curaleaf Holdings Inc., an international provider of consumer cannabis products, has partnered with TerraCycle, an international recycler of hard-to-recycle waste, to create an easier way for its cannabis consumers to recycle their flexible waste packaging plus glass and cardboard too.

Many edible, vaporizer, and flower cannabis products are packaged in combinations of flexible and/or rigid plastics and glass. These pose problems for New York’s curbside recycling services. Now, consumers can responsibly discard their cannabis packaging materials in TerraCycle receptacles at select New York Curaleaf dispensaries.

Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, explains that a mechanical recycling process is used to process the flexible film packaging. “The flex film is collected, sorted, and fused together to create more dense materials,” he says, noting that the packaging waste is cleaned and recycled in accordance with regulatory guidelines for each waste stream, ensuring no cannabis residue remains on the plastic.

The densified materials are then mixed with other plastics to make recycled plastic blends, he continues, adding that the blends are melted into hard plastic pellets that can be remolded to make new recycled products, such as durable outdoor furniture.

Related:PLA a Prescription for Sustainable Healthcare Packaging


The TerraCycle partnership is the most recent endeavor in Curaleaf’s multi-tiered commitment to fostering responsible cannabis use.

Following a review of its business practices to identify areas for greater efficiency while partnering with external environmental consultants to lighten environmental footprints, Curaleaf also developed a carbon-tracking and supply chain transparency program internally through its partnership with Map Collective and its internal sustainability task force. With recycling programs developed in Arizona and now in New York, Curaleaf is working toward building a more sustainable company.

About the Author(s)

Joanna Cosgrove

Freelance Writer

Joanna Cosgrove has enjoyed writing about the packaging industry for more than 20 years.

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