When Garret Schwartz, co-founder and CEO of recycling solutions provider Resinate, saw a documentary about plastic waste and its impact on the ocean, he started asking questions about the current state of recycling in his home state of Arizona, as well as in the broader United States.
“I didn’t realize how much plastic was just not getting recycled, how much was going into the environment,” he told Cannabis Business Times. “I started asking about why and just wondering, what is happening in Arizona and in the U.S. that is contributing to the dysfunction? … What is a valuable resource that is not being recycled that could be recycled that we could focus on? Where is a problem worth solving within this dysfunction?”
Schwartz and his business partner, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Brandon Schwartz, started educating themselves on how recycling works and how plastic moves from a business or a household into a sorting facility, and then to a plastic processor or manufacturer. They wanted to find a way to acquire and process some of the material into something new.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for a better system to exist,” Schwartz said. “That’s what we’d like to focus on. The future of that can be built with help from businesses.”
Resinate launched its first recycling effort in a coffee shop, where it placed a fishbowl with a small sign indicating that customers could use the bowl to recycle small plastic items like pill bottles and cannabis containers.
The company then quickly turned its attention to the cannabis industry, where plastic packaging and containers are generally too small to be recycled by city recycling programs.
“Even though the material itself is recyclable—the plastic itself is recyclable—the sorting system that cities and [waste management companies] use is designed to allow small objects to fall through the cracks with all the other contaminants that they get rid of before objects are actually sorted out by type,” Schwartz said. “So, we found out about that and [since I’ve been a] cannabis patient since 2014 or so, I’ve seen this, and I had a dresser drawer just packed full of little containers that I was going to figure out what to do with at some point.”
Resinate has partnered with dispensaries across Arizona, including Oasis Cannabis, Green Hills Patient Center, Sol Flower Dispensaries, Marigold Community Dispensary and, most recently, Hana Dispensaries.
“Obviously, our stores’ products use a lot of packaging, and … we know that there are a lot of different types of packaging that can’t be recycled through different recycling efforts, through whatever city that you live in,” Hana CEO Matt Pinchera told Cannabis Business Times. “Resinate kind of steps in there to fill that gap somewhat and makes it so our consumers can recycle things that they can’t recycle at their homes. So, we felt like that was a really good proposition that we should get involved in.”
Resinate provides its Energy Pods, custom designed recycling bins that collect plastics, to the dispensaries. Customers can then deposit all types of plastics, including exit bags, acrylic concentrate containers and plastic tubes that hold vapes, into the bins, which are then maintained and emptied by the Resinate team.
“If it’s plastic and it comes out of the dispensary or the pharmacy, you can bring it back to the dispensary and get rewards for recycling,” Schwartz said.
Starting Jan. 1, customers who recycle using the Energy Pods in Hana’s stores are entered for a chance to win $25 in store credit. Each of Hana’s two locations in Phoenix and Green Valley will randomly choose a winner each month.
Hana has put up signage in its dispensaries to educate customers on recycling and promote Resinate’s program. Customers can recycle any plastics that fit within Resinate’s guidelines, no matter the brand or where the product was purchased.
“We think recycling is important and it’s a way that we can chip in and help try to recycle more things today than were recycled yesterday,” Pinchera said.
“When we make recycling available, it not only prevents that material from going into the landfill and taking up space in an Arizona landfill, [but] it [also] allows that material to live on again and to replace material that would be extracted from the earth in a new product,” Schwartz added.
Resinate turns the plastic waste it collects into new products that are made from 100% recycled materials. The company is about to release a new item called the Twisted Tray, a roller tray made entirely from recycled cannabis containers.
Resinate first removes the labels from the plastic packaging, then it shreds the materials and remelts and remolds them into its products.
“That starts with sorting out all these pop tops into different colors, and then we’ll take those colors and make our mixtures,” Schwartz said. “We have this copper color, these gold color pop tops that come from Sol Flower. We’re shredding them up and injecting them into producing these shiny, pretty, gold rolling trays.”
Resinate receives emails and messages on social media almost daily with people sharing their support of the company’s mission.
“It’s a problem in people’s lives that they kind of push to the side, but once it’s solved, they’re really grateful,” Schwartz said.