The cannabis industry's growth and processing of hemp and marijuana has environmental impacts. We have been working collaboratively to raise awareness and establish best practices for the industry to reduce their environmental footprint. Together, we are developing innovative strategies and tools to help improve sustainability in the industry.
Growing cannabis emits highly reactive volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Marijuana-Infused Product (MIP) facilities also emit VOCs from solvent extraction processes.
Both types of VOCs from the cannabis industry contribute to ozone formation in Denver's ozone nonattainment area. We have recommended best management practices for both grow and MIP facilities to reduce their air quality impacts.
Best management practices. Emission reduction tips.
Compliance requirements, best management practices , and emissions reduction tips.
Emission requirements, compliance tips, solvent extraction use.
- First commercial exchange of recovered carbon dioxide.
In the news
Colorado leads the nation in Cannabis Sustainability (Boulder Weekly)
Selling greenhouse gas to pot growers (Washington Post)
- The Impact - marijuana grows and extraction labs harm our air - but here's how pollution is being mitigated (WeedMaps News)
Colorado’s marijuana sector heavily relies on electricity to run artificial lights, as well as air-conditioning and dehumidifiers. With electrical generation being responsible for a large portion of greenhouse gasses and other air pollutants, energy efficiency has an impact on air quality in Colorado.
The first step to improving your energy usage is tracking your usage and establishing a baseline.
The cannabis industry produces a variety of waste streams, some of which may be subject to specific requirements under the Colorado Solid Waste Regulations and the Colorado Hazardous Waste Regulations. It is up to each facility to comply with these regulations and to determine appropriate waste management strategies including making hazardous waste determinations for each waste stream.
Hazardous wastes generated by these facilities may include, but are not limited to, spent organic solvents and refining chemicals, used reactants, compressed gases or aerosols, bulk or residual fertilizers, cleaning solutions, and universal wastes (mercury-containing lighting, ballasts, batteries, etc.).
- Compliance Bulletin - waste guidance policy
Most cannabis is grown indoors and grow facilities rely on the municipal water distribution system for influent irrigation and wastewater collection system for effluent discharge. Influent filtration and treatment can be necessary for crop optimization which results in energy consumption and waste generation.
If wastewater is sent through a sanitary sewer system, the sewer provider needs to know the type of discharge coming from the grow facility to ensure that they can handle treating that contaminant.
If water is not sent through a wastewater treatment plant via a sanitary sewer system, other options of wastewater treatment must be evaluated. Please coordinate with the local public health agency when considering options.
Inefficient use of water is not only wasteful, but can cause facility damage by encouraging fungal growth, create worker air quality safety hazards and add extra load to the HVAC system, wasting energy.
How do I properly dispose of other liquid wastes that are not hazardous wastes?
Non-hazardous liquid waste may be transported to a wastewater treatment plant by a licensed wastewater hauler, or via sanitary sewer pipes, so long as the treatment plant knows about the waste and deems it acceptable.
Alternatively, liquid waste may be solidified by mixing with soil or other absorbent material in order to be sent to a landfill. Contact the receiving landfill to confirm the resulting mixture can meet its waste acceptance criteria prior to disposal at the landfill.
Depending on the type and quantity of wastewater generated, other options may be available. Call the technical assistance line at 303-692-3320 for further options.
To contribute towards a greener industry, please use the resources below. To discuss innovative strategies and collaboration, contact Kaitlin Urso.
Media links and outreach materials
Sustainable Cannabis - Podcast
Navigating Environmental Requirements- Magazine article.
Air Pollution From Pot Farms - Magazine article.
- Cannabis companies are now eligible for State environmental awards
Cannabis Consumer Protection - Denver DPHE
Sanitation guidance for centers, stores, manufacturers and cultivators.
Inspection process overview.
Cannabis Sustainability- Denver DPHE
Current best practices.
Cannabis Environmental Best Management Practices Guide.
Small Business Assistance Program