Like a lot of cannabis companies, Seagrass is always thinking about how we can
help protect the planet and promote more sustainable business practices. No one in the
cannabis industry works harder at this than Colorado-based Sana Packaging.
Like most consumer goods, cannabis products require packaging. Compliance
with local regulations and issues like child-proofing can add additional challenges on
packaging for medical and recreational cannabis wholesalers and retailers.
Sana Packaging has tackled these challenges head-on by using plant-based
materials and reclaimed ocean plastics to create a more sustainable solution for
cannabis packaging. James Eichner, one of Sana’s founders, graciously made time
recently for an interview with our intern, Cole Digangi from Champlain (VT) College.
James Eichner started Sana Packaging five years ago while he was in graduate
school at the University of Colorado with his friend Ron Basak-Smith. Eichner said the
goal then and now was to get cannabis companies to think about sustainability,
disposable products and waste recovery. To do that, Eichner set out to create a circular
system that eliminates packaging waste by promoting the continual use of resources,
creating hemp-based cannabis packaging and packaging from plastics reclaimed from
Eichner said Sana has used over 58 tons of plastic waste that was once floating
in the world’s oceans. The company sources reclaimed ocean plastics from
Oceanworks, a global marketplace for reclaimed and recycled plastic materials and
“The cannabis industry was exciting to us because it’s relatively new and can still
chart its own course, unlike other consumer packaged goods that have 50 or 60 years
of tradition and would be more resistant to change,” said Eichner. “And the people in the
cannabis industry and its customers tend to be more aware of the need for responsible
While there has been progress, ultimately, Eichner would like to see cannabis
packaging incorporate additional re-use of materials.
“One of the best examples to point to, truly circular packaging, is the old milkman
model where you had glass bottles, the milkman would drop them off, and then the
bottles would be collected and refilled,” Eichner explained. “The bottle would be used
until it cracked or chipped or broke. And then the glass would be recycled and made
into another bottle. So you’re extending the life of the physical product for as long as
Eichner is realistic about some of the hurdles for the cannabis industry in
promoting waste reduction, noting that stigma and inconsistent regulations among
states can make it more challenging to create the most sustainable packaging products.
“There are some recycling facilities that are resistant to taking cannabis
packaging due to concerns about residue but as more and more states legalize and
cannabis becomes more mainstream, we’re seeing progress. And while we understand
the need for responsible handling of the product, the cannabis industry needs to re-
evaluate child resistant packaging for non-activated products like flower and pre-rolls.
That would be a significant step forward.”
Eichner is not worried that the push for more sustainable packaging practices
might affect Sana’s bottom line.
“We joke that we’re the cannabis packaging company that wants to run ourselves
out of business. It’s more important to us that the life cycle of a product and a material is
extended as far as possible than it is for us to sell more widgets and pieces of
packaging. Obviously, we don’t want to run ourselves out of business, but the way we
hope to stay in business is by being a part of that reuse solution. We’re trying to build a
business that sustains itself and creates good values but we’re also trying to do what’s
right and be a part of what the future of packaging will look like beyond cannabis.”