There's a Growing Trend of Ancillary Cannabis Vendors Advising on Sustainability Practices
"We want the supply chain of services supporting the industry to be consistent with the supply chain for the direct industry participants."
The cannabis industry and sustainability movement have met at a critical intersection, changing the upward trajectory of social responsibility in the industry for good. Driven by evolving environmental regulations, consumer demand, and the best interests of the business, cannabis operators looking to promote sustainable business practices are no longer alone in their venture. Ancillary product and services vendors are supporting operators in new ways.
As the cannabis industry matures and competition intensifies, ancillary vendors are looking for ways to provide added value to their customers. Generally, ancillary vendors seek to provide additional value through cost savings and efficiency gains that boost profitability. Now, they’re adding sustainability practices and expertise to the list.
When it comes to sustainability, having an ancillary vendor that is already experienced with sustainability initiatives allows the vendor to serve as a trusted advisor to the operator. By surrounding your business with a variety of ancillary vendors that have the same goals as your operation, you can get a running start on sustainability initiatives. Here are four key ancillary product and services areas that are teaming up to support sustainability in the cannabis industry.
While sustainability and advisory services may seem to be two sides of very different coins, there is an undeniable correlation that can greatly help drive sustainability efforts. From advisory, assurance, and tax services to quality and compliance consultants, these service vendors are key to exploring and implementing parallel industry best practices and standards that have been used for decades.
“We want the supply chain of services supporting the industry to be consistent with the supply chain for the direct industry participants. This is about changing behavior permanently and creating opportunity out of a challenge – this is an important step in the journey,” said Ira Weinstein, Cannabis Industry Group Leader at CohnReznick.
Sustainability starts from the ground up, literally. This can be a daunting task for businesses that have no background in facility design, even without sustainability in mind.
From irrigation to HVAC, lighting to temperature controls, facility design is a crucial piece of the sustainability puzzle. There is a major push to adopt a science-based approach to facility design in the cannabis industry. Investing in a facility design vendor that is dedicated to sustainability and backed by solid engineering and adopted standards can assure success and sustainability in any cannabis operation.
“Sustainability is not just a label, but a legitimate practice that must go all the way to the core of operations. Every point along the supply chain is going to lead to sustainability.
By focusing on the triple bottom line, cannabis operators can balance what is good for people, the plant, and profit,” explained Brian Anderson, Principal and Co-Founder of Anderson Porter Design.
Having a well-thought-out facility with sustainability at its core will deliver incredible benefits beyond efficiencies and cost savings. A fantastic example of this is in Massachusetts. The state Cannabis Control Commission offers real-time rewards to companies that go above and beyond the code in their demonstration of sustainability. Adopting sustainable practices and partnering with ESG conscious vendors can greatly benefit licensed operators.
Equipment & packaging
When we think of sustainability, equipment and packaging is almost always the first aspect that comes to mind. While simple swaps are easy for traditional food and beverage manufacturers, cannabis is a power and water-hungry beast riddled with compliance roadblocks and some unavoidable, unsustainable requirements. Luckily, equipment and supply vendors are transforming the way cannabis operators source materials and are embracing sustainability holistically.
“Cannabis operators now have the opportunity to partner with vendors that can help guide their sustainability initiatives,” stated Eric Myers, COO of Omega Equipment & Supply. “Implementing sustainability practices without firsthand experience or guidance can take years for a given operator to master if they ever come at all. By working with a network of sustainability-minded vendors, an operator can gain valuable insights from their previous experiences with other clients and industries.”
While many large players in the industry have been investing in the latest and greatest technology for upwards of a decade, COVID-19 became a major catalyst for influxes of technology into the cannabis space. Having to operate more efficiently and lean than ever, cultivators, processors, distributors, and retailers alike are seeing the glaring need for big tech to drive sustainability and efficiency efforts.
“Technology has become a game-changer for many cannabis operators. From ERP to RFID to AI, canna-businesses can realize efficiencies almost instantaneously after deployment,” said Hanna Shanes, Chief Compliance Officer at 365 Cannabis. “Creating an ecosystem of technology that communicates seamlessly and provides quantitative and qualitative analytics back to operators is critical for sustainability.”
Leveraging big tech allows canna-businesses to operate more sustainably, efficiently, and profitably.
Sustainable Cannabis Coalition for Vendor
According to a 2020 environmental sustainability report published by the National Cannabis Industry Association, companies that focus on sustainable practices can reduce resource dependence and associated costs, helping them outperform their competitors in the long term.
To better support operators in their journey for sustainability, dozens of ancillary product and services providers in the cannabis industry have teamed up to create the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition. The SCC is dedicated to providing resources with real-world applications and working proactively with industry peers and vendors to promote proven sustainability best practices that can be implemented at scale across the cannabis market.
Whether you’re a small startup or a multi-state enterprise, ancillary cannabis vendors have their sights set on sustainability to support your ESG efforts.