Eco-Friendly Cannabis Packaging Design: The Way of the Future
Many would think of the cannabis industry as being environmentally conscious; after all, cannabis use has historically been associated with a save-the-world mentality. Unfortunately, strict requirements on cannabis packaging materials and design make it hard for most in the industry to be as “green” as they would like. At present, hardly anyone in the industry is using truly sustainable cannabis packaging.
In Oregon, for instance, on a recent list of approved cannabis packaging types put out by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), 28 of 29 options included some element of plastic. With cannabis as one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, the implications of using environmentally harmful packaging are very real. According to the Plastic Oceans Foundation, 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, and half of it – including cannabis packaging – is intended for single use. In fact, packaging is the largest segment of the end-use market, accounting for more than 40% of total plastic usage.
To combat this, packaging manufacturers must fight back via innovation and voluntary compliance with higher standards. Sun Grown Packaging, a sustainability-focused packaging producer based in Oakland, Calif., was the first to file a patent for a recyclable, compostable, child-resistant cannabis package. The made-in-the-USA box is currently the only non-plastic option approved by the OLCC. Moreover, Sun Grown is registered with ASTM International, and voluntarily ensures that their products comply with the high packaging standards developed by that organization. This commitment to going above and beyond has attracted other forward-thinking cannabis clients.
The following examples show how Sun Grown has worked with companies on sustainable packaging designs that take a bite out of the unsustainable plastic packaging market.
Overview: Gold Seal focuses on exotic boutique strains of flower intended for the cannabis connoisseur. The company’s brand messaging was developed in collaboration with creative cannabis branding studio Purple Line Media.
Packaging solution: Gold Seal was searching for an original way to package their pre-rolls. “One goal was a departure from the standard cigarette pack and the connotations of tobacco,” explains Rob Nachtwey, the Sun Grown representative who worked with Gold Seal on the project. “Together with their [branding] firm we explored several different approaches. After several rounds of structural packaging prototypes…we developed both a single pack and triple pack.”
Overview: Viola Extracts, which focuses on purity and consistency in their concentrates, came to Sun Grown Packaging because they wanted to make a difference in the industry. Specific goals included reducing their carbon footprint, omitting plastics, and working with biodegradable materials.
Packaging solution: The Viola team needed a sleek small box that would allow them to amplify their brand and leave a small [carbon] footprint. They were able to accomplish both. “Viola was thrilled to be one of the first in Colorado to adopt a truly ‘green’ option for their packaging,” says Matt Cannon, the Sun Grown rep who worked with Viola on the project.
Overview: The team behind this San Francisco-based startup delivery service, which offers pre-rolls, vape cartridges, and raw flower, was determined to get ahead of regulations by using locally manufactured, sustainable packaging.
Packaging solution: “Under their direction we developed a modular, sustainable, child-resistant delivery box,” says Sun Grown’s Nachtwey. “The concept includes several ‘pod’ inserts which can securely package an array of products within two distinct delivery box sizes. This flexibility allows them to efficiently offer a full menu while minimizing the necessary packaging.”
Overview: Temple’s single-origin, strain-specific CO2 extracts are handcrafted in small batches in Northern California. The company is committed to using pure, high-quality ingredients and sustainable production methods.
Packaging solution: Sustainable packaging was consistent with Temple Extracts’ passion for building a socially conscious, environmentally sustainable brand and helping further a national sustainable cannabis movement. “[Temple Extracts] decided on a unique combination of eye-catching graphic elements, including foil stamping and UV spot gloss coating,” says Nachtwey, who worked with Temple Extracts on the project. “To ensure a continuous visual appearance, we printed on both inside and outside. Special ‘soft touch’ coating enhances the tactile packaging experience.”
Overview: Oregrown is a Bend, Ore.-based organic cannabis grower and extract producer. Sustainability is at the core of the brand: according to co-founder Aviv Hadar, “it factors into every link in our supply chain, from organic production methods to our packaging.”
Packaging solution: “Working with Aviv has been great,” says Chris Giles, a sales representative for Sun Grown who worked on Oregrown’s packaging. “You can tell by talking with him, visiting the dispensary, and exploring their brand that they are conscious of their footprint and they genuinely care about the environment.”
Overview: Canna Clear’s pure, naturally flavored cannabis concentrates are produced at the southern tip of California’s Emerald Triangle, and tested thoroughly for cleanliness, quality, and potency. Their “earth-minded” brand identity was developed in collaboration with The Hybrid Creative cannabis branding agency.
Packaging solution: “[We used an] off-white background for contrast to highlight the elegant graphic elements,” says Nachtwey. “Highlights include a layered wave pattern of colored foil, product specific for each of their three offerings. A raised and embossed logo brings a tangible element.”