When someone uses the words “green” and “cannabis” in the same sentence, they aren’t normally referring to how eco-friendly the cannabis industry is. And that’s an issue Especially for California — a state that is juggling increased flooding, droughts and raging wildfires.
As the climate crisis escalates, new research indicates that U.S. cannabis businesses will increase electricity consumption 162 percent by next year, with the industry currently consuming enough electricity to power 92,500 homes annually. Add to this the enormous water consumption, waste processing, runoff, volatile organic compound emissions, soil additives, packaging and other environmental threats cannabis production causes, and you’ve run up a large tab on the world’s resources.
Commercial cannabis is the first agricultural commodity to come of age at a time of climate change. And yet, many growers and cannabis companies aren’t concerned with (or haven’t thought of) their environmental impact. But consumer, regulatory and activist voices are growing much louder for cannabis cultivators to alter their methods to grow more environmentally friendly and toxin-free products. A clear message is being sent: for this new industry to thrive, it must adopt sustainable cultivation and manufacturing practices; not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because customers are increasingly demanding eco-friendly products.
According to research conducted by Survey Monkey, one in three consumers prefer eco-friendly choices, with 35 percent of people willing to spend more money on products that were better for the environment. And California consumers are no different. In a study conducted by WalletHub, California was listed in the top 10 “most environmentally friendly states.” Consumers are increasingly demanding eco-friendly products, and cannabis is no exception.
Canivate Growing Systems Ltd., a North American start-up building its first facility in Southern California, says they intend to establish a new “gold” standard for clean, green and pure cannabis products. Canivate is aiming to dramatically reduce the energy and water requirements of traditional cultivation methods and eliminate the need for harmful agricultural toxins while increasing crop yields and the quality of the cannabis. The patent-pending system creates, in effect, a perfect ecosystem and microclimate for USDA organic equivalent, naturally cultivated cannabis and hemp — lifting a substantial burden off of the environment.
The first facility for Canivate’s Southern California campus is set to be completed in late fall 2020. here are already signed contracts place for the facility to provide high profile cannabis companies such as EarthShaker, a cultivator for popular luxury brands like Beboe; and Commercial Grow Supply, the grower for popular brands including Big Mike and Cookies that cultivates toxin-free products with a substantially lower impact on the environment.
Sevan Derohanian, CEO of Commercial Grow Supply, is an industry insider who believes retailers desperately lack access to consistently high quality and ecofriendly product from their suppliers. “Canivate has reimagined how growing systems should work, creating an optimal environment for amplified plant growth, higher crop yields, cultivated in a sustainable way. I have seen the future of cannabis cultivation and it is Canivate.”
Traditionally, cannabis is cultivated either outdoors, in greenhouses or in indoor facilities, all which have significant environmental, contamination and pest risks. Canivate creates a new category of growing environment. It employs a number of innovations in cannabis cultivation, optimizing results through automation and robotics, micro-environments, nanotechnologies, and Internet of Things monitoring and controls.
As a result, the facilities use up to 90 percent less energy, 90 percent less water collection, 40 percent less fertilizer and 50 percent less labor costs compared to traditional indoor grow operations. It also utilizes uniquely formulated nutrients and minerals to create a “fertigation” system that optimizes growth and produces USDA-equivalent organic plants. The California facility is also expected to be the cannabis industry’s first fully sealed growing environment, which prevents the infiltration of pathogens, pests and other contaminants, while providing extreme odor control — along with the building’s energy efficiency gains.
According to the CEO Troy McClellan, they realized that there was a fatal flaw in the industry that had already started to severely impact the sector. It had gone from black market to grey market to today’s open recreational and pharmaceutical environment. The industry emerged from the days when people grew cannabis in their basements to avoid detection. No one looked at what the plant needed to thrive or what could be done to lessen the impact on the environment — they just looked for more space to grow it the same way it’s always been grown. According to McClellan, this needs to change.
“We saw serious flaws in the industry and knew something had to be done. There is a real opportunity here from an environmental perspective and as a business,” McClellan says.
McClellan believes in industry that has a desire to be better environmental stewards; cultivators just don’t know how to do that. “We do,” he said. “The bonus — our proprietary facility design and automated growing system will not only be better for the earth, it will lower their operational costs, increase yield and provide the ability to deliver consistent quality product to their retailers. There is real business value in embracing this sustainable IP. The cultivator wins, the consumer wins and Mother Nature wins. That’s a good thing.”
Canivate’s Southern California campus — which has the ability to house up to 14 of the company’s facilities — will also be home to education, research and development centers and a retail dispensary. The Education and R&D centers are important elements of the company’s future plans. McClellan says that as far as they have come in understanding how to address the industry’s problems, they aren’t going to stop there. “R&D is at the heart of who we are at Canivate. We will never stop learning or improving.”