In the farm bill of 2018, Hemp and Cannabis production got a green tick from the US government. With this legalization, CBD and THC products took over the people. Moreover, now there is a surge in demand. To satisfy these demands on a large production, we need to leverage hemp and cannabis growth.
This production is having dangerous effects on the environment. Questions arise about how to manage the waste from cannabis and hemp. Places such as the Ministry of Hemp give us some solutions to this serious environmental issue, but there is a lot we have to ponder.
The heavy production of hemp and cannabis leaves a massive amount of biomass behind, which calls for a proper treatment strategy. The stats show the waste has accumulated to 1 million tons in North America. This number is large, with most of the waste constituting the cannabinoid raw material.
It is posing difficult situations for the hemp manufacturers to handle the cannabis and hemp waste. A heavy investment awaits a proper sustainable implementation to potentially use the waste generated by hemp and cannabis.
The waste streams coming from hemp and cannabis are its production and packaging waste. The quantity of waste is high in Colorado states, so the environmentalists are working to find out the exact numbers of this waste and categorize them into different categories. Many firms have emerged which collect and dispose of hemp-cannabis waste.
They are trying to maintain data of the waste coming however it is one tedious task. The THC wastes are considered hazardous, and thus it has to be treated in a way that does not harm the environment. Currently, this waste gets converted to compost. However, a short-term plan will orchestrate to churn out paper and other products from it.
Cannabis Disposal Process
When the cannabis waste gets collected, the first task is to separate it into organic and non-organic waste. The organic waste gets mulched, and people buy it to amend the Soil. The non-organic wastes include vapes, plastic, and glass. As they get made of sturdy material, they are hard to recycle, but reusing is an option.
The glass and plastic undergo molding and reuse. The government has laid some rules for the disposal of cannabis. However, the growers tend to violate the laws at times. Their wrong approach to cannabis disposal leads to severe threats to the environment. It also has detrimental effects on the health of the people.
There are multiple ways to dispose of hemp waste, but most of the growers choose landfilling. It also becomes the choice of most hemp dealers as it is a comparatively cheaper option than others. However, Landfilling is not an efficient option for cannabis disposal. It does not adhere to the guidelines of the EPA (Environmental protection agency).
The standards state that the cannabis products should be removed from the package and labeled as unusable. It also says that the waste to be dumped should be half cannabis waste and half non-cannabis waste. The products with a higher concentration of hemp get disposed of with utmost care and precaution.
Regulations for Hemp Disposal
USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has formulated some methods for hemp disposal. They divide techniques into two columns depending on their compliance outcome. The hemp growers can choose any one way or combine the two of them. The various agricultural production activities include Plowing under, Mulching/ Composting, Disking, Bush Mower/ Chopper, Deep Burial, and Burning.
The hemp growers can also make compost of the hemp waste, but it seems impossible with the added bleach. Compost is only feasible with pure organic compounds. The other things making it challenging to compost hemp waste are the harmful pesticides and chemicals added to the hemp.
Because of these reasons, the hemp growers have to go for the other alternatives of composting. One such is Incineration, where the waste gets burned at high temperatures. They can also try in-vessel digestion. The ideal compliant outcome of the composting should be green manure that is perfect for amending with the Soil. For disking, the green manure should come out as an additional compliant waste while leveling the Soil. The Chopper technique is when the biomass is minced and mixed with the green manure.
The Packaging Waste
The regulation of the state and federal government asks for solid packaging of the cannabis-hemp products. It means the dealers have to pack it twice with the plastic layers and accommodate it with plastic caps, plastic bags, plastic bottles, joint tubes, and tins. The high demand for cannabis products will mean more production. Hence along with the rise in trade, both cannabis and plastic waste will rise commensurately.
New Rule in 2021
Currently, USDA has released some temporary changes in the current hemp disposal regulations. A final draft with new rules will be out by 31 October 2021. The USDA says that the interim dumping rules hold importance for the disposal of piled-up cannabis waste.
The final policies need some time for proper crafting, and then it will ensure that the current disposing system and rules fit smoothly in the final draft. However, there is no place to dispose of the hot hemp (having more than 0.3% THC). The USDA will continue to take audits in the farms, and hemp growers must comply with the current laws.
The disposal and recycling of harmful substances are a threat to the environment. Looking at the multitude of benefits the Cannabis and Hemp plant offers, its products are gaining popularity. However, the risk it comes with is the non-reusable nature of cannabis. The plastic packaging the cannabis comes in is causing environmental challenges.
The hemp growers either can continue to use landfills for the dumping of cannabis waste. Alternatively, they can incline towards more sustainable ways of waste management. The USDA will also come with more sustainable and better ways of cannabis and hemp disposal.
Author: Kaitlin Justice