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Weed is wasteful: Marijuana market is producing new avenues of trash


Turns out, there’s a downside to getting high. Washington’s legal marijuana market has produced a new funnel of weed waste, clogging the state’s landfills and waterways.

“Really? Clogging?” KIRO Radio’s John Curley said. “The problem is the government makes the purveyor put the pot in so many plastic contraptions so it doesn’t have an odor or whatever, and you end up with a lot of garbage.”

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Kristen Millares Young with The Washington Post reports that the plastic packaging used for the state’s marijuana market has added a new source of plastic garbage to float in waterways, blow around the street, and fill landfills. For example, “doob tubes” are plastic tubes that carry a single, pre-rolled joint. But they’re so small, they aren’t often picked up at recycling centers. In turn, they get forwarded to a landfill.

“You have all these little things like doob tubes … they’re these little plastic containers that are so small you can’t recycle them, even though they are recyclable,” co-host Tom Tangney said. “They fall between the grates at the recycling building, so you can’t recycle them. There’s so much plastic being discarded, it’s filling up the landfills, or it’s just clogging our waterways.”

The doob tubes aren’t always made from recyclable plastic. According to The Washington Post, the small plastic tubes “spiked in popularity by 67 percent in just one year.”

Plastic is not the only culprit. There are also fertilizers and plant waste.

“Another byproduct of this industry are theses concentrated nutrients and fertilizers they say are left over from the growing operations,” Tom said. “They are dumped in the public sewers, and they manage to get through the wastewater treatment plant. Then there are things that need to be composted instead of getting trucked to landfills. But in order to do that, you have to mix it with so much grass, it’s takes a lot of effort because they don’t want people taking the refuse and smoking it to high off it. So they have to mix it.”

Not only that, some growers are finding that the plant waste is difficult to get rid of — many composters don’t want to accept marijuana.

Booming marijuana market

Washington state is one among many states that have legalized recreational marijuana. It’s proving profitable for many entrepreneurs, feeding a demand for the weed.

The new market has resulted in an oversupply of marijuana in Washington and elsewhere. Oregon has grown more weed than stores can sell. It’s led to a drop in price. Washington is in a similar situation. Experts have estimated that the state’s marijuana supply in 2018 would be 60 percent larger than in 2017; an incentive to unload the product.

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