Zero-Waste Hemp: A Win/Win Situation for Profits and the Planet

No matter what your reasons are for having entered the hemp industry, one thing is clear: The link between hemp and sustainability is undeniable. Hemp, in all of its resilient glory, can be used in 50,000 ways and offers sustainable solutions to unsustainable farming practices. And it’s biomass can be profitable for business. That’s a win/win we can all get behind. Here’s what you need to know.

The uses for zero-waste hemp are abundant.

When consumers think of the hemp plant, it’s common to think of its leaves and flowers, lush parts of the plant used to make everything from teas to topical oils. But hemp waste (stems and root balls, growing medium that’s been used, and other parts of the plant that are unhealthy or otherwise unmarketable) are all fair game for repurposing.

Stalks can be repurposed into building materials, textiles, rope, insulation and paper. Hemp roots can be used to make simple root teas and salves rich with anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp waste can also be used for on-site composting and mulch. The result? More sustainable agricultural processes on the backend — and more products to expand your offering for consumers on the frontend.

As with any hemp-related process, mind the regulations.

Before seizing the zero-waste hemp opportunity (or any business opportunity for that matter), it’s critical to understand the regulations in your state. According to BioCycle, “Unlike other agricultural industries, cannabis growers in most areas must keep exhaustive records of every ounce of material they discard. Some jurisdictions require that each plant get its own ID and tracking tag, or that senior managers from the producer accompany the waste to any external disposal site.” Usually, biomass must be kept in a secure storage area with limited access to authorized personnel.

There are resources to help facilitate the process.

Companies have emerged to help you comply with your state’s waste compliance regulations. Industrial Hemp Recycling (IHR) based in Denver, CO offers a mobile service where grow houses, manufacturers, and labs bring the company in-process waste to then haul it away. IHR also offers consulting services to help companies navigate compliance, explore options for hemp waste byproducts and more. GAIACA waste revitalization, based in Gonzales, CA, works with cultivators, manufacturers, labs, distributors, and retailers all over the state.

Before you start your journey, invest in the right tools.

When it comes to zero-waste hemp, smart inventory management will lay the groundwork for transparent processes and handoffs. Forward-thinking business are leveraging software solutions that allow them to turn raw materials into a finished product, tracking every step of the way, then moving the waste created from that process back into their inventory as a secondary product. This helps exploit the zero-waste aspect of hemp while staying organized and compliant every step of the way. When it comes to reaping the benefits of zero-waste hemp, Krissy Loken, Account Executive at KLER stresses an important mindset shift: “It’s time to start thinking of waste as a secondary resource or a byproduct. Even if you aren’t as concerned with sustainability or reducing your carbon footprint — recycling hemp waste just makes fiscal sense as a way to increase your margins and gain greater ROI.”