Entrepreneur Wants to Turn Canada’s Cannabis Waste into Prosthetic Limbs

Written by: Caitlin Donohue – HighTimes

A Halifax entrepreneur says he can source the raw materials for his line of plastic prosthetic limbs from the country’s dire new problem with legal cannabis over-packaging. Kindness3D founder Jacob Boudreau once created a fully-functional, 3D printed X-Men’s Wolverine claw for a child amputee. Now he claims to have redesigned a paper shredder to make it capable of converting environmentally-unfriendly marijuana packaging into hands for those in need.

How Does Cannabis Impact the Environment?

Concerns over the marijuana industry’s effects on the environment are far from new. As far back as 2010, the New York Times was calling into question the excessive amount offuel consumed by indoor grow-ops. Seattle’s The Stranger reported that in the first three years of legalization, Washington’s marijuana industry created 1.7 million pounds of plant waste. But wins in the legalization movement have spiked concerns as new companies across the US and Canada bundle their product into trendy plastic packaging whose volume can at times seem preposterous. The trend has compounded an issue that begins at the root and now extends through the point of cannabis sale.

Canada broadly legalized marijuana production, sale, and consumption earlier this month. In the earliest days of the country’s legal sales, MacLean was part of a wave of surprised marijuana consumers who raised complaints against the bulky packaging being employed by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, the state’s only licensed cannabis retailer.

“I mean, a baggie has been doing the trick for years and years and years now,” Nova Scotia cannabis customer Greg MacLean told the CBC.

Not all are taking the local onslaught of weed packaging sitting down. But Boudreau, for his part, has not specified how much cannabis waste can be utilized by his small prosthetics company. Kindness3D has only been able to ship two of its devices: one to an amputee in Costa Rica and another in Brazil. Scale aside, those interested in supporting Boudreau’s initiative can sign an online petition created in the hopes of convincing the NSLC to start collecting cannabis packaging waste for his company.

An article by the Rooster stated that standard opaque packaging for seven grams of marijuana can weigh as much as 29 grams, which is four times heavier than the flower inside. That investigation noted that marijuana packaging “has less to do with the contents it holds than what it is required to say about them.” State and federal regulations often include a laundry list of warnings and indications that marijuana producers are required to include on containers.

Many retail operations are also barred by law from running their own recycling programs. In California, waste disposal guidelines can include hiring certified waste haulers and even removing cannabis-contaminated parts of the product to make it eligible for disposal. In response, companies like Sun Grown Packaging and HISIERRA have developed recyclable, child-resistant pouches for cannabis products.

To whatever extent he is capable, Boudreau is hoping to be part of the solution to the issue in Nova Scotia. “It’s something we’re really excited about,” he told CBC. “We’re doing our part to kind of help out and as well repurpose this packaging and create some artificial limbs from it.”