5 Questions with Dr. Bob Bhushan

Special Advertising Section - Special Advertising Section | Ask the Experts: Waste Management

Dr. Bob Bhushan, Chief Technology Officer and Founder of Micron Waste Technologies, explains why cannabis green waste is different from other plants and shares the best disposal methods available.

July 2, 2019

1. What makes green cannabis waste different from other plant waste?

Cannabis waste contains Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), including THC and CBD. Because of this, green waste may be considered pharmaceutical waste and, in most jurisdictions, is coming under increasing regulatory scrutiny. Licensed cultivators in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the E.U., in particular, have to tread carefully to stay compliant with federal, state and local regulations. Poor destruction practices can negatively impact the environment and carry the potential to expose a grower to liability, including licensing delays, refusals or suspensions.

2. How do cultivators dispose of their green waste now?

Many cultivators mix it with equal parts kitty litter, spray it with water and truck it to landfill, where it generates methane, a greenhouse gas up to 36 times more damaging than CO2. Anti-odor crystals in kitty litter are not biodegradable, so the waste cannot be composted. Kitty litter will make it a Class II landfill waste, but does not denature APIs, raising the risk of potential leaching into groundwater, where research has shown a negative impact on aquatic ecosystems. There is a patchwork of other waste management solutions —both on- and off-site—depending on the location of the growing facility, including mixing with bleach, specialized composting where available, in-vessel digestion, and incineration.

3. Are current destruction methods sustainable?

Current disposal options have limitations and also may have environmental impact, including the release of prohibited smoke or vapor, delays in the breakdown of materials, and the release of APIs into wastewater. Micron gave testimony to the Canadian Senate on Bill C-45 regarding cannabis waste, and more recently contributed to the development of new ASTM voluntary standards for cannabis waste disposal to promote sustainability and help provide more guidance to growers and governments on best practices. ASTM’s guidelines call for shredding, mixing with organic materials to prevent diversion, odor mitigation and wastewater treatment on resin-contaminated waste.

4. What are some benefits of using greener technology for waste disposal?

Green technology helps protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the likelihood cannabinoids will enter waterways where they can disrupt aquatic ecosystems, exposing facilities to liability. Additionally, leveraging green technology can enhance a company’s reputation with stakeholders, governments and shareholders, and can increase brand recognition with consumers. Micron Waste Technologies, in partnership with Aurora Cannabis Inc., is developing on-site, sustainable cannabis waste processing systems, which are designed to divert green waste from landfills, reduce trucking, and process wastewater for compliant discharge or reuse.

5. Where can growers find more information?

Growers looking to stay abreast of evolving local, state, federal and international cannabis waste regulations and standards can find more information at micronwaste.com or by emailing us at info@micronwaste.com.