Cannabis Waste Disposal Best Practices – How to Stay in Compliance

It’s no surprise to the cannabis industry that cultivating and manufacturing goods creates an enormous amount of waste. Cannabis’s classification as a federal schedule I substance further complicated the issue. This means the remnants from processing cannabis may be considered hazardous and must be classified as such prior to disposal. 

Additionally, 13 states have explicit regulations for cannabis waste disposal. Not only must cannabis operations adhere to federal requirements, but they must also comply with unique state requirements. To stay updated on cannabis waste disposal compliance, we’ve compiled the best practices used by top operators across the country. 

A Background on Cannabis Waste Solutions 

Cultivating cannabis understandably creates an immense amount of waste. For companies concerned about sustainability, as well as those required to dispose of waste properly to meet compliance, cannabis waste solutions are critical. Currently, most cannabis waste is heading straight to landfills that are already quickly running out of space, especially considering the state of Washington alone was estimated to produce 1.7 million pounds of cannabis plant waste from 2014 to 2017. 

As the industry expands, so will the waste that cultivators produce, meaning landfills won’t always be a sustainable option. Although compliance regulations vary from state to state, most requirements include the following guidelines. 

  • Cannabis waste must be rendered unusable and unrecognizable.
  • Cannabis waste must be incorporated with non-cannabis waste, such as non-consumable solid wastes.
  • The resulting mixture (of both cannabis and non-cannabis waste) must be at least 50 percent non-cannabis waste and should be placed in a secured waste receptacle.

Best Practices for Cannabis Waste Disposal 

How can a company remain environmentally conscious, meet compliance, and dispose of waste cost-effectively? Let’s get into the recommended practices for an efficient cannabis waste disposal plan.

1. Disposing solid waste per requirements

States have specific guidelines for how types of trash are to be disposed of. For instance, according to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, the state considers cannabis plant material “commercial organic material” which is banned from trash disposal if the operation produces one ton of waste per week.

Be sure to understand your state’s laws regarding waste disposal. Some best practices many operations are implementing to address large amounts of waste, including anaerobic digestion and on-site composting.

2. Managing liquid waste

Whether from grown or processed cannabis flower, liquid waste needs to follow any applicable state and federal requirements even if your state’s marijuana regulatory agency doesn’t explicitly require it to meet compliance. Remaining in compliance not only means following specific cannabis regulations, but other local, state, and federal laws and regulations too. Keep in mind that managing liquid and hazardous waste typically differs on how liquid waste is discharged, such as a holding tank, groundwater, or sewer connection.

3. Identifying and discarding hazardous waste properly

You should understand what types of waste from your operation are deemed hazardous. Typically, this includes used lighting, solvents, pesticides, oils, or general chemicals. If your operation outputs these types of materials most are subject to state hazardous waste guidelines, which governs the storage of the waste, labeling, transportation, and disposal. Hazardous waste producers often need an EPA ID depending on how much waste your operation produces, which also includes annual compliance fees as well.

4. Recordkeeping and documenting 

Most state regulatory agencies have processes for overseeing cannabis waste disposal. Recordkeeping and documenting your facility’s methods, operations, and procedures in which your facility disposes of waste is crucial to avoiding fines,violations, and any other penalties. For example, Massachusetts requires waste be kept in a stored, secure, and locked location with at least two regulatory agents present to witness and document the disposal Plus, the records from each waste disposal incident must be kept for a three-year period. Putting systems in place to initiate, track, and record waste disposal is vital for compliance.

Streamlining Waste Disposal Compliance 

When you implement technology into your day-to-day cannabis operations, you equip yourself with the power to improve processes, prove compliance, and track efficacy as well as efficiency even with mundane practices like cannabis waste disposal. By including your operations cannabis waste disposal plan in your training and standard operating procedures, regardless of whether it’s required, you ensure the right employees are assigned to the task and processes are running efficiently. 

Explore the power of ProCanna today. Our unique software solution helps cannabis business operators seeking to optimize operations while staying in compliance. Schedule a demo now and see how ProCanna can work for you.