Inside Climate News: A Legal Pot Problem That’s Now Plaguing the Streets of America: Plastic Litter

Great report. From day one legislators have actively ignored this issue in the name of over cautious safety and the industry has not pushed back enough to demand better solutions

Here’s the introduction

“We’re going to have this entire new universe of plastic waste of the worst kind,” says one environmental activist.

Waste packaging from a burgeoning and newly legalized marijuana industry litters streets across the country, adding to a global crisis of plastic waste.

In New York, regulators who are making the state’s first-ever rules for the retail sale of recreational marijuana hope they have answers to limit their state’s contribution to the problem. They’ve been working to include sustainable packaging requirements into the licenses that businesses will need to open by the end of this year.

However, at least one prominent environmental advocate fears New York—and other states grappling with a new and booming industry—aren’t requiring enough producer responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products.

Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics, a group working to end plastics waste, said the best time for a nascent industry to bake in sustainability principles is when it’s just getting established—and for legalized cannabis sales, she added, that means now.

“When states approve recreational use of marijuana, they should create environmental standards for packaging, otherwise, we’re going to have this entire new universe of plastic waste of the worst kind,” said Enck, a former regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s small, it’ll get littered on city streets, and very likely get washed into storm drains, and then into streams in the ocean,” said Enck, who got her start in environmental advocacy successfully lobbying for New York’s state’s 1982 Returnable Container Act, known as the bottle bill. “There are alternatives to plastics, but the companies selling the product will probably just go for the cheapest packaging they can find, which is plastic.”

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A Legal Pot Problem That’s Now Plaguing the Streets of America: Plastic Litter

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