As the cannabis industry has evolved, the safest bet to getting in the door has been ancillary businesses. From vape pens to software that can do just about anything and everything within the industry, ancillary companies have been a big part of the cannabis revolution. Most attract investors because they’re perceived as safe and are usually branded as “sleek” or “innovative.” Still, as with most industries, the least sexy aspect of a business can wind up being the most important.
Laura Turner, founder of CWR SoCal, Inc., might not be the talk of the cannabis investor world, but her recycling business is one of the most important additions to the cannabis industry to date. A self-proclaimed “green nerd,” Turner became active in cannabis after she had her gallbladder removed and experienced digestive issues. She began growing her own food but got tired of buying compost, which led to creating her own. In her research, she stumbled across anaerobic fermentation, a process using biological cultures to break down food without oxygen; its waste product can be used as compost. After a friend asked Turner if she could break down his extraction waste, she realized that the process should be used for cannabis waste as well — byproducts of a new and quickly escalating agricultural industry.
“I started asking around, ‘What are you doing with your waste?’ And it was either stockpiling it until they figured out what to do with it or bagging it up and dumping it in dumpsters,” she recalls. Turner was having none of that. “No, no, no, no, no. Being the green nerd that I am, I already knew that there was a 75 percent diversion initiative in place by CalRecycle, where commercial businesses, if [they’re] throwing away a ton and a half of waste on a weekly basis, it must go through an organic recycling program. People [were] going to start getting infractions and fined, because they just didn’t know.” Turner wasted no time action to establish CWR SoCal, Inc.
“After a friend asked Turner if she could break down his extraction waste, she realized that the process should be used for cannabis waste as well — byproducts of a new and quickly escalating agricultural industry.”
Wanting to provide full-service solutions for compliance, Turner isn’t stopping with agricultural waste — she’s also cleaning up disposable vape cartridges, USB chargers and e-cig battery waste. Partnering with an international recycling conglomerate that can recycle literally everything, this waste can now be developed into new, resalable products. Turner is now working with dispensaries to set up customized zero-waste collection boxes for disposable vape waste.
Will cannabis waste recycling make it outside of California? Our Green Nerd has already thought about expanding. “We’re actually working with a few organizations to expand [CWR] in states outside of California over the next couple [of] years,” she tells me. Hats off to you, Laura Turner, an unsung cannabis hero! Let’s hope your name and Cannabis Waste Recycling continue to be a part of the cannabis conversation.