US (NY): Cannabis recycling bill filed to mitigate environmental impact of industry

A New York senator filed a bill that would promote recycling in the cannabis industry once retail sales officially launch.

Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D) is sponsoring the legislation, which would require cannabis shops to apply a $1 deposit for any cannabis products sold in single-use plastic containers and also reimburse consumers for that fee if they return the container.

In the justification section of the bill, Hinchey said that New York’s adult-use cannabis law that was enacted last year includes “important” packaging requirements to such as childproof sealing to prevent youth from accessing the products. However, an “unfortunate externality” of those rules is that they cause the legal cannabis industry to have an outsized plastics footprint and to become a notable environmental consideration.”

“The legal cannabis industry in the United States produces about 150 million tons of waste each year. Even when cannabis packaging is recycled at home, it is often sorted out by recyclers and taken to landfills,” it says. “While no industry is blameless in the plastic pollution crisis, New York has a unique opportunity to prevent a new source of plastic pollution as we consider the legalization of recreational cannabis.”

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