We recently caught up with Tyler to ask about PolyCanna‘s driving mission, the PolyCannaZERO program, strategies the cannabis industry can use to elevate its sustainability, and more. Check out the full written interview below.
Ganjapreneur: When was PolyCanna founded and how many people do you currently employ?
Tylor Couch: I’ve been kicking this idea around for a long time now, we are officially an LLC as of August 2019. We currently work with volunteers.
What inspired the inception of PolyCanna?
I had a mold made so I could melt down recycled materials and frame artwork. I thought about the cannabis industry and how much cannabis packaging was recently recovered from the Platte River in the Denver metro area. Next thing I knew I was immersed in bioplastics and sustainability within the cannabis industry.
How do you gather used cannabis packaging with PolyCannaZERO? And have you faced any regulatory hiccups because the packaging has been in contact with cannabis?
PolyCannaZERO offers customers and patients of dispensaries a place to recycle their old cannabis packaging. Mainly dram bottles (plastic jars). We offer incentives with dispensaries for the return of dram bottles to one of our receptacle sites. People can also send them directly to us!
There is no prohibition against recycling these containers, they just need to be cleaned out before they’re recycled. With proper signage and a locked receptacle or in a locked area it is very easy to implement a recycling program in a dispensary without worry. We have spoken with the MED multiple times about this and our efforts go beyond their requirements.
How can a dispensary sign up for the PolyCannaZERO program?
A dispensary can sign up with PolyCannaZERO by email or phone on or our website PolyCanna.co. We aim to make every dispensary’s experience with PolyCanna unique as every dispensary is unique. From zoning to custom bins, PolyCanna will create a seamless transition into sustainability.
Do you use a specific technology or method to convert cannabis packaging & dram bottles into polymer?
We take the recycled material, sterilize it, and depending on the product being made, we process it through a regrinding machine and create blends of recycled materials that will never reach a landfill. We created the first 100% recycled cannabis packaging made totally from that same recycled packaging.
Where do you source the hemp polymer used in your products?
We source it locally as we are currently poised to manufacture hemp polymer in the near future.
We noticed that you sell hemp polymer in bulk, what can this material be used for?
Almost anything made from an oil-based plastic.
Can you walk us through your product development process? How long does it take to go from concept to prototype?
We design products with longevity. Take single-use plastic and turn it into multi-use plastic. In the meantime, we integrate hemp and other bioplastics. We get inspiration from the lifestyle we live and give a pathway to a better version of products and tools we use, as well as establishments we frequent.
What kinds of resources have helped you in product development? How could an entrepreneur gain access to these resources?
Network. Network. Network. If you have a righteous cause to get behind and you go at it boldly, you’ll find yourself will all the resources you need.
As for the time it takes to develop a prototype, it all depends on the product. We have gained some amazing resources in this space giving us opportunities to bring most products to prototype very quickly.
What new products do you plan to launch and when can customers expect to see them in the shop?
We are always working on new products! Right now we’re focusing on cannabis packaging and that should be available in the coming weeks! Our major aim is to reduce the waste involved in the cannabis industry.
We are also working on rolling trays, water bottles, sunglasses, snowboard/mountain bike gear, hemp clothing and bags, more disc golf discs, skateboards, guitar picks, various aerospace, vehicle, and appliance parts, basically, anything we can get our hands on that people aren’t going to throw away. Products with longevity. All made from hemp or recycled material. We’ll be releasing multiple products in the coming months.
Again the main focus right now is to find viable solutions for the single-use oil-based plastic that the industry currently has while we integrate bioplastics. The trick is finding a way for single-use plastic to never reach the ocean or landfills in the first place.
Is PolyCannaZERO a nationwide project or are you primarily focused on Colorado?
We are primarily focused on Colorado but we plan to expand into every state and country with dispensaries or facilities that dish out high volume single use plastic packaging
Do you think that the wide availability of hemp polymer could revolutionize industrial manufacturing? What would it take to get us there?
Short story. Yes, it will. It would take just that, wide availability. Because of the limited availability of hemp polymer, its not yet reached a crest where it can be appropriately integrated into industrial manufacturing, fiscally. Once it starts to be more and more produced, it will be more available at an affordable rate.
What advice do you have for someone who is interested in practicing sustainability in the cannabis industry?
My advice would be to make sure you stay focused. In this area it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and sidetracked once the single use plastic door is open. It will change the way you look at everything.
That said, If you have the opportunity to make this world a little bit better than you found it, you have the responsibility to.
Thanks, Tylor, for answering our questions! Learn more about Tylor Couch and Polycanna at Polycanna.co.