The waste problem in Oklahoma’s cannabis industry

With Oklahoma’s medical cannabis scene growing rapidly, industry professionals and cannabis patients are feeling the weight of packaging waste. But a lack of recycling infrastructure and an unwillingness to raise prices for sustainable packaging have left Oklahoma unprepared to handle the growing mountains of plastic packing the state’s landfills.

The plastic container output at the Primetime Buds dispensary alone, for instance, was around 4,000-5,000 pop-tops every month. Oklahoma has more than 2,300 dispensaries, and nearly 10% of the state’s population carries a medical cannabis card. It’s a lot of waste, and recycling it can get complicated.

For instance, there are seven common types of plastic. Plastic pop-tops — also called drams — are usually made from No. 5 plastic, but can also be made from other plastics. 

But not all recycling centers take every kind of plastic. For example, the Metropolitan Environmental Trust (the MET) is a nonprofit that oversees 11 Tulsa-area recycling centers, and none of them take No. 5 plastics. In Recycle This Tulsa’s full list of area recycling centers, only one takes No. 5. 


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