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Top 10 Sustainable Cannabis Packaging Options (New in 2024)

March 1, 2024

Top 10 Sustainable Cannabis Packaging Options (New in 2024)


So you want to go more sustainable with your cannabis packaging and want to know what options are available. You are in the right place! I’ve been on a personal mission to make sustainable cannabis packaging a reality (without greenwashing) for 7 years now!

I have put out a lot of content on sustainable packaging over the years, from my podcast to my LinkedIn newsletter and I even did a series on The Cannabis Packaging Show back in 2019 focused on how to “go green” with your cannabis packaging. But we felt it was a good time to run it back and present an updated version of what options are available, as well as some more education on sustainable packaging based on what we have learned.

Buckle up and get ready to be a changemaker for good!

Let’s go! 

The 5 Ways to Go Sustainable 

There is a lot of debate in the world today regarding what is the most sustainable. Is compostability the best option? What about recycling? 

Let’s take a minute to talk about the 5 ways to go sustainable as I see it:

  • Packaging that is recyclable (ie. You put the packaging in your blue bin and it is wanted by recyclers)
  • Packaging made from recycled content (ie. Packaging that was made from material that was recycled, such as PCR plastic)
  • Packaging that is compostable (ie. Meets official standards for compostability such as ASTM D6400 and not simply calling something “biodegradable”)
  • Packaging that is reusable (ie. The packaging is collected, sanitized, and then reused)
  • Packaging that reduces other environmental stressors (ie. Lower water consumption in manufacturing, ships most efficiently, reduces plastic usage, etc)

You may find one jumps out immediately as the direction you want to go with. If so, great. Consider this as a simple, high level overview you can use to categorize any sustainable packaging option you are considering.

Note that some sustainable packaging options will fall into multiple buckets. For example, our Locking Tin™ is recyclable, could be reusable, and reduces other environmental stressors by reducing plastic usage. 

Now that you have a birds eye view of the different ways to go sustainable, let’s dive into the options!

Top 10 Sustainable Cannabis Packaging Options 

Creating a “Top 10” list was difficult, because as a custom cannabis packaging company, there are so many options that we can offer. So keep in mind this is not a complete list of everything we offer, so if you have a unique vision for sustainable packaging outside this list, please reach out and let’s discuss whether it's achievable. 

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for.

Option #1: Glass Jar and Tube with All Metal CR Cap

Why it’s sustainable: Sure, using glass as a sustainable material is nothing new. But what is unique is that we were able to remove all plastic from our push and turn child resistant caps by using tin. Normal push and turn child resistant caps contain two plastic pieces that are combined to create the child resistant mechanism. This is a great option if you prefer glass packaging, but want to remove the plastic from your child resistant cap.  

Option #2: Glass Jar with Certified Home Compostable Resin CR Cap

Why it’s sustainable: In Option #1, we replaced the plastic in the child resistant caps with tin on our glass jars. But what if you like the look and feel of a plastic, but do not want to use plastic? You can also use a home compostable certified bioresin to make our push and turn child resistant caps. Looks and feels like plastic; but it’s not! 

Option #3: All Metal CR Round Tin With Home Compostable Refill Pod


Why it’s sustainable: If you are adventurous and wanting to push the envelope, here you go! All metal child resistant tin with no plastic parts is reusable, recyclable, and sustainable by every definition. The home compostable refill pod is sealed with a child resistant foil and would be given to the consumer on their repeat purchases. Yes, a regulatory hurdle, but what a statement this would make to the world that the cannabis industry is sustainable and forward thinking. Currently, we have a reputation of using excessive plastic, even though the industry is full of people who genuinely care about the planet.

Option #4: Ocean Bound Plastic (anywhere from 25% to 100%) Pop Tops 

Why it’s sustainable: Most pre-rolls sell at a low retail price point, so you need to be practical with how much you are going to spend. That does not mean you cannot go sustainable! By using ocean bound plastic in your pop tops, we are taking plastic that is bound to enter the ocean and are giving it a productive second life instead. Keep in mind that ocean bound plastic is defined as plastic that is found within 50 km of the shoreline and is not plastic removed from the deep sea, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Option #6: The Locking Tin™

Why it’s sustainable: The Locking Tin was one of our first sustainable and child resistant packaging options we brought to the cannabis industry and it has remained a classic. The all-metal design is important for a few reasons. First, all metal means it uses no plastic, which is always a plus, but even more important, it allows the tin to be easily recyclable since it's monomaterial. Other CR tins that mix plastic and tin together are very difficult or impossible to recycle. You can pair your Locking Tin with a sustainable insert, either from board, metal, or even molded pulp, like the insert you would find with an iPhone.

Option #7: CR Pocket Box

Why it’s sustainable: This is a new addition to our product line that excels when it comes to sustainability. Many child resistant board boxes use a plastic capping to reinforce the board in an effort to make the product pass CR testing. The Pocket Box has a sturdy design that does not require the plastic capping on the board. The silicone button on one side only is easily peeled off by the consumer. You can make your Pocket Box with a kraft board, FSC certified board, or using a board with recycled content.

Option #8: Ocean Bound Plastic Industry Jar and Tube

Why it’s sustainable: Even without ocean bound plastic, The Industry Jar and Industry Tube are both options that consumers are going to keep and likely not discard. We have gotten many testimonials over the years suggesting that. In fact, when sending packaging samples to potential customers, we frequently hear that The Industry Jar has become their new favorite stash jar! Similar to the pop top listed as Option #4, you can also make The Industry Jar and The Industry Tube using anywhere from 25% to 100% ocean bound plastic!

Option #9: CR Paper Tube

Why it’s sustainable: Like them or not, the pop top is an iconic part of the cannabis industry. As a result, it has also become a part of the industry's poor reputation when it comes to sustainability. We wanted to create a version of the pop top that opened the same way, but that was far more sustainable. With our CR Paperboard Tubes, you can remove 80% of the plastic of a pop top with a majority board construction! You can also make these using FSC certified board or recycled content.

Option #9: 100% Hemp Folding Cartons

Why it’s sustainable: I’ve been promoting 100% hemp packaging since 2021 (we debuted at Pack Expo) and I do believe it is the future! Literally, the future. Pricing still becomes the major hurdle, even despite the countless environmental benefits of hemp, which is covered on this podcast episode. Using a lower percentage of hemp content can reduce the price, but beware of “hemp papers” that simply sprinkle in a small amount of hemp fiber, which I consider greenwashing. If you want more affordable tree-free materials that are also carbon sequestering, you can consider bamboo or even sugarcane. 

Option #10: 100% Hemp Fiber Labels

Why it’s sustainable: Imagine for a moment if every branded label that went on a jar or tube was made from 100% hemp fiber! Take it one step further and what if every patient label, batch labels, or other variable printed label was made from 100% hemp fiber. This is an easy and affordable way to incorporate hemp into your packaging. Much more affordable than the hemp boxes from Option #9, but still the same tree-free, carbon sequestering, soil nutrient adding goodness!

How To Decide Which Options To Choose

Those are our Top 10 sustainable cannabis packaging options! 

In a world of many choices, it sometimes is hard to “pull the trigger” and get yourself to make a decision. Even just at Contempo, there are so many sustainable packaging options to consider beyond these Top 10, let alone including other options you get pitched from other packaging companies, So let’s try to break this down into a simple format once again.

Ultimately, you will make your decision based on what I called 3 Ps:

Performance: Sustainable packaging sometimes performs differently than their traditional counterparts. For example, some bio resins will not have the same shelflife as virgin plastic.

Price: Of course, you can find sustainable packaging options that are very affordable, but they are not always very affordable. If you are selling a low margin product with a low retail price point, you may have to stick to some of the options at the top of the list.

Preference: Some people love composting and some people don’t. Some people love the idea of recycling plastic and some people don’t. Some people like bags, some people like boxes, some people like tubes! You are free to choose the option that you believe is best for the planet and your brand. Have some fun bringing your unique vision to the world

And as always, I recommend you embrace progress and don’t seek perfection. Seeking perfection often means sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing.

In a world with many environmental problems, action is needed from people like you who care enough to read a post like this!

Want to see all our sustainable cannabis packaging options and see which ones fit your budget?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Contact to schedule an appointment with an Account Manager to review all our options and develop a sustainable packaging strategy! As you can see from this post, there are many sustainable packaging options and not all of them are outside your budget. You can also learn more about our preferred sustainable packaging materials on our website.

Thank you for choosing Contempo Specialty Packaging. Have a great day!

Contempo Team