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From Peace Corps to Peace Pipes: Steve Sakala Shows CBD Companies How to Be Eco-friendly

Learning environmental science and sustainable agriculture, an entrepreneur applies those lessons to his CBD brand.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga

There's zero excuse for consumer packaged goods companies to not be plastic negative, says Steve Sakala.

Tinnakorn Jorruang | Getty Images

Take his work in the cannabis industry. Like most industries, the world of weed has a major sustainability problem. It creates at least 150 million tons of waste annually, mainly due to single-use plastic packaging.

RELATED: Future Cannabis Industry Leaders Will Focus on Sustainability and Social Impact

Steve's story

After traveling the world with the Peace Corps, Sakala learned a lot about environmental science, sustainable agriculture and the damage pollution does to our oceans. He eventually put these lessons to good use when he settled down in Hawaii and launched Mana Artisan Botanics.

The Kailua-Kona-based startup specializes in CBD topicals, oils and tinctures, and has amassed a loyal following — especially in the luxury spa market.

It's also touted as the first plastic-negative CBD company in the U.S. Mana did this by partnering with rePurpose Global, a nonprofit that collects and recycles one pound of ocean-bound plastic waste for every product Sakala sells.

"We really wanted to create a company that was based on this idea of the triple bottom line, that it wasn't just about us making a dollar and focusing on profit like most corporations are, we wanted to take the planet and our people and community into account," Sakala told me in a podcast interview (link below).

"It's not that expensive to go plastic neutral or negative. If there's any bit of extra margin there, at least take a look at it. Run the numbers."

RELATED: 4 Ways Hemp Could Build A More Eco-Friendly Economy

A pioneering example 

Goa, India-based rePurpose Global allows companies to offset their carbon footprint for $2 to $4 per month (25 cents per pound). So not only is Mana reducing the impact of whatever little plastic it uses in its packaging, but it also uses sustainable alternatives, supports regenerative and local farming practices, and sources ingredients locally.

"By going plastic negative, Mana Botanics set a pioneering example for the CBD sector to follow at a time where consumers are increasingly demanding brands in the sector to 'walk the talk' and commit to taking responsibility for their plastic packaging usage," rePurpose Global co-founder Peter Hjemdahl says.

"The time is ripe for a sea change in the CBD industry, and we expect tens of companies in the space to follow Mana Botanics' lead and go plastic neutral or plastic negative with rePurpose Global in 2021."

Mana isn't the only company looking to rePurpose Global for guidance on how to reduce their carbon footprint.

RELATED: Three Exciting Trends Transforming The Hemp Business

What's next for Steve?

So far, rePurpose Global has brought more than 90 companies onto its platform — an uptick from just one company on Jan. 1, 2020.

Its goal is to welcome 300 companies into its coalition in 2021 and enable the annual removal of 20 million pounds of plastic waste from nature across three continents by the end of the year.

"From artist collectives and global consultancies to bamboo diapers and natural pet food, we enabled businesses small and large to ignite change overnight and go plastic neutral by creating systemic change towards a future free from plastic waste in nature," Hjemdahl says. 

"On behalf of this global coalition, we now eliminate over 2 million pounds of plastic waste every year through rePurpose Impact Projects across eight countries, and in doing so, rePurpose Global is positively impacting and touching the lives of 9,500-plus marginalized waste workers and community members worldwide."