April 26, 2024

Cannabis Waste Shredders: Your Complete Guide to Understanding How They Work

Jane Cooper

The cannabis industry is evergreen. As it continues to grow in a multi-billion dollar industry, so does the waste that it creates.

Waste management has become quite a thorn in the side for growers, producers, and retailers alike—and it all has to do with state and federal regulations. Luckily, cannabis waste shredders are here to make life easier for everyone on the cannabis supply chain, bringing peace of mind and a simple, effective way for disposal.

Keep reading to find out more about what is meant by cannabis waste and how cannabis waste shredders are helping everyone in the industry remain compliant.

A Special Kind of Waste

Cannabis may be a plant but in terms of waste, it doesn't have plant equivalency in accordance with EPA standards.

From cultivation byproduct—leaves, trim, stalks, roots, etc.—to manufacturing and laboratory byproduct, you get organic and inorganic profiles that create a variety of waste streams.

It's especially important to take into consideration the different types of cannabis cultivated and manufactured, i.e., marijuana and hemp. The marijuana variety of cannabis is still a Schedule I controlled substance due to its THC concentration. The hemp variety of cannabis has been declassified and is 100-percent legal—it only contains trace amounts of THC that can be found throughout this variety in particular.

This leaves the cannabis waste in question as either non-hazardous cannabis waste, traditional hazardous waste, or hazardous cannabis waste.

Non-Hazardous Cannabis Waste

Non-hazardous cannabis waste is defined as such by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).

It refers mainly to the hemp variety of cannabis by-products such as leaves, stems, roots, bulbs, stalks, etc. These whole plant parts become nothing more than "organic waste."

To dispose of this organic waste by law, it must be made unusable and unrecognizable. To do this, it has to be mixed with other non-hazardous waste like food or yard scraps until it's only a certain percentage of cannabis.

Traditional Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is defined by the EPA as any waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health and/or the environment.

Hazardous waste can take the form of a liquid, gas, solid, and even sludge. They're typically the by-product result of manufacturing processes that involve other chemicals.

To be classified as hazardous, the waste must have one or more of four characteristics: flammability, reactivity, corrosivity, and toxicity. Cannabis by-products can have any of these characteristics as a result of poor manufacturing processes—not the plant itself

Hazardous Cannabis Waste

Hazardous cannabis waste refers to two types of hazardous. The first is outlined as the four categories listed above (liquid, gas, solid, and sludge). The second is any chemical constituents within the plant.

In other words, marijuana is considered a hazardous cannabis waste. This is because THC is still federally illegal and is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

This type of cannabis waste can sometimes be aggregated with other materials until it becomes unusable and unrecognizable. Some states treat THC-containing cannabis as medical waste and require that it's disposed of as such.

The main rule of thumb in terms of cannabis waste disposal is that you can't just throw it away.

This is to prevent any leftover cannabis materials containing THC from getting into the wrong hands. Those wrong hands would be minors, pets, or other animals. It's also to prevent any THC from contaminating soil or water sources.

Why You Need Cannabis Waste Shredders

Each member of the cannabis supply chain must dispose of their cannabis waste properly. This includes everyone from growers, to extractors/producers, to dispensary owners. This is where cannabis waste shredders come into play.

For Growers

Growers deal with the bulk of whole cannabis plants and their disposal.

Plant materials leftover from cultivation and processing must become "unrecognizable and unusable." Once this new identity is achieved, the cannabis waste can then be shipped off to a licensed composter or landfill.

Of course, between cultivation, harvest, and processing, a lot of plant waste is generated. Cannabis waste shredders can take care of those large quantities of processed materials.

For Extractors/Producers

Extracting THC or CBD from cannabis is a process that may utilize solvents, chemicals, and a lot of water. What's leftover are whole plants or plant parts that have retained any chemicals or solvents used. They also contain remnants of THC and/or CBD.

Of course, not all extraction methods call for chemicals and solvents. The ones that do use them create hazardous cannabis waste that must be disposed of in accordance with state regulations.

Extractors/producers have responsibilities. Those responsibilities include grinding down all materials into an unrecognizable pulp. Then they can turn over their hazardous waste to a licensed company.

For Dispensary Owners

All cannabis products have an expiration date. As a cannabis retailer, it's against the law to throw away expired products and materials. Dispensary owners must work with a licensed waste company to remove these products.

Those who work in bulk retail find cannabis waste shredders helpful. They help retailers remain compliant with cannabis laws and regulations in terms of waste.

Grinding expired cannabis flowers and plant materials is also a preventative measure. It keeps anything from being stolen while waiting for a waste removal company's scheduled pickup.

Are You in Need of a Shredder?

If you're in the cannabis business, then the answer is yes—you need a cannabis waste shredder.

The last thing you want is the wrong person getting their hands on your leftover plants and plant parts. This is something that could end up in fines and possibly losing your business.

We have plenty of different types of industrial shredders suited for all purposes.

Contact us today with any questions or concerns. We'll gladly guide you in the right direction.

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