Cannabis Waste

Litter Buds: Cannabis Waste

By Macey Wolfer


We are fortunate that Washington State is home to legal, recreational cannabis and a good amount of environmentally conscious people to boot. You would think the waste of this budding new industry would have been considered in the initial regulations and what the environmental impact might be but it seems the two don’t always overlap.

Today we are seeing a surge of cannabis waste and there is a growing need to be aware of our impact on the environment when we consume these products.

If you’ve spent any time at popular beaches or public parks in our beautiful state, you’ve probably noticed cannabis packaging amongst other trash. Pre-roll tubes, flower bags for packaging, and mostly spent joints are abundant in just about any space people like to smoke weed (and that’s a lot of places.)

Heather Trim of Zero Waste Washington reported to the Washington Post that “Cannabis packaging is adding to our load, which then gets washed into our lakes and Puget Sound.”


Unfortunately for those who are trying to be environmentally conscious, “doob tubes” for holding cheap, pre-rolled joints are typically not even recyclable. It turns out they can fall through the grates of recycling machines, despite being made of recyclable material.

With a booming industry and so much competition among retailers, sustainability is often the last thing considered from seed to shelf. Recyclable packaging is not a regulatory requirement right now, so it’s up to the consumers to lead the way.

A 2017 article from the Stranger reported that although farmers are required to keep track of their waste (1.7 million pounds between 2014 and 2017, by the way), nobody has kept track of where it’s being disposed of.

We have to urge lawmakers to regulate the industry in a way that will be more sustainable and hold manufacturers accountable for their waste. In the meantime, we also need to urge our friends, family, acquaintances, anyone consuming cannabis, to dispose of it properly.



Apart from clogging gutters and being swept away by our waterways, cannabis litter poses a threat to wildlife.

Wild animals risk accidentally consuming marijuana butts and other cannabis packaging.

Cannabis waste is not just an issue for wildlife. Domestic animals and pets may be at an even higher risk. In one example, a small dog began acting strange and anxious and was taken to the vet after vomiting. The dog was found with THC in his system and after much confusion, the owners realized it was from the time spent free-roaming an area commonly littered with cannabis remnants.

With the environmental risks of cannabis packaging laying around public areas and not being disposed of properly, it’s important to bring this subject to the attention of those who need to hear it most: the consumers.

Cannabis Paper


The best thing we can do to prevent more cannabis waste from affecting the environment is to start with ourselves.

  • Pack your packaging out with you if you’re in a public space and wait until you can find the proper receptacle. Remember most tubes aren’t recyclable in facilities, despite being made of recyclable materials.
  • Purchase cannabis products that use glass or other recyclable materials. Many cannabis flower is now being sold in glass jars which can be reused for other purposes.
  • Consider supporting regulations that encourage better laws around cannabis packaging in the future.

There’s still a long way to go in sorting out our environmental impact at all stages of the industry, but consumers have an obligation to set an example for the rest.

Be responsible with your trash and help keep our environment clean and safe for years to come. If you are new to Washington, check out this post on getting the most out of Washingtons Cannabis Industry. or stop into one of our Kush21 locations to see what options we offer that provide the least amount of waste so you can enjoy your weed without the guilt.

Macey Wolfer

Macey is passionate about music, animals, and the vast potential of cannabis.

*All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

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September 15, 2019

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