Photo contributed by O’Neil Rudolph.
A new app launching in February will reward consumers for their efforts to be more sustainable while shopping at participating dispensaries.
“Cannachange works towards a more sustainable cannabis industry by incentivizing consumers to return their recyclable cannabis packaging to participating dispensaries,” said O’Neil Rudloph, the company’s founder and owner.
The free app — which is woman, Black and LGBTQ+ owned — will benefit both consumers and dispensaries, according to Rudolph.
How Does it Work?
Consumers receive one point for using a reusable bag and one point for each recyclable item they return. When consumers accumulate 25 points on the app, they can exchange the points for a $5 dispensary credit.
Consumers can also purchase reusable bags directly from cannachange.
Each user can download the cannachange onto any smartphone and create their own profile. After creating a profile, each user has a unique QR code. Dispensaries can issue points to consumers by scanning that QR code.
Dispensaries are able to scan the QR codes, assign points to consumers and issue credits. Consumers are able to track their points and the total amount of packaging they have recycled.
“Allowing people to track waste in the app and kind of see their impact overall, I thought would really encourage people,” Rudolph said.
Currently, 27 dispensaries, mainly along the West Coast, are interested in cannachange.
“I am looking to increase that number everyday as we get [near] our February launch,” Rudolph said.
Cannachange will launch to recreational dispensaries on February 18th and consumers on February 25th, 2022. Once the app launches, consumers will be able to find participating dispensaries in their area through the app.
“By allowing consumers to find participating dispensaries near them in the app, cannachange increases exposure for those dispensaries and motivates consumers to choose them over dispensaries that don’t offer cannachange as a sustainable cannabis solution,” Rudolph said.
The points system is dispensary specific. For example, consumers can only redeem credits when purchasing from the dispensary that issued the credits.
This ensures that dispensaries experience an increase in revenue and exposure, and promote customer loyalty to a specific participating dispensary.
However, people can return packaging to any participating dispensary regardless of where they purchased the product.
What Happens to the Packaging Customers Return?
When a dispensary collects packaging, it is either reused or recycled. Dispensaries will accept jars, pre-roll tubes, boxes, concentrate containers and any other packaging made of paper, glass, aluminum, or cardboard. However, they will not accept cartridges and pens.
These recyclable items then go in cannachange collection bins.
Cannabis distributors would then clean and re-use these jars that cannachange collects.
“In states, like Colorado for example, where take back programs have been legalized, that means that the dispensaries there that collect glass jars […] can actually clean them out, and as long as they’re cleaned up to standard they can be reused,” Rudolph said.
“In other states where things like glass jars aren’t able to be taken back, because it is not legalized yet, [they] will be processed at a recycling facility to just be broken down into new material,” Rudolph explained. “That is the same for plastic, paper or cardboard that don’t come back in perfect condition.”
The Face Behind the App
“The cannabis industry produces over 150 million tons of waste every single year,” Rudolph said.
This made Rudloph ask herself, “how can I incentivize people to participate in sustainability efforts and how can they be rewarded for that?”
Cannachange aims to make sustainability in the cannabis industry more accessible, exciting and rewarding.
“I have always been really interested in sustainability and felt that a lot of sustainability efforts needed to be made more accessible to consumers,” Rudolph said.
An app seemed like the easiest way to do that, she said.
Rudolph is from Colorado and now resides in California. Both states have shown a lot of interest in cannachange, according to Rudolph.
Creating more Impact: Next Steps After Launch
In the future, Rudolph hopes to expand cannachange to other states and countries.
Businesses in cannabis-friendly states along the West Coast show the most interest in the app. But Rudolph hopes that dispensaries in more southern and midwestern states will get onboard too.
As access to cannabis expands, and cannachange grows, Rudolph hopes to create a closed loop system and create her own recycling services.
With increased consumer interest in sustainability along with the incentive created by cannachange, the demand for sustainable packaging will increase. Consumers will be more inclined to choose recyclable packaging that can help them earn more dispensary credit.
But in order for cannachange to create more impact, more cannabis packaging needs to be recyclable and made from recycled materials.
“I am speaking to a lot of sustainable packaging companies right now because with something like this, it is important that more packaging is recyclable so it can be returned through cannachange… I just think it’s about encouraging dispensaries to take that packaging on and production companies to use that packaging,” Rudolph said.
Overall, cannachange aims to make the entire cannabis industry more sustainable; and to have both consumers, dispensaries and manufacturers participating in this effort.
“We are shifting the industry in the way that not only the packaging is processed after use, but how it’s produced in the first place,” Rudolph said.