Is CBD Sustainable? From Plant to Distribution

4th October 2021

As CBD continues to soar in popularity, so does the desire to protect the planet, and as a result, many are wondering, “is CBD sustainable?”. Some of the common claims behind CBD include alleviating stress, pain and improving sleep. In addition, there has been a lot of talk about hemp being the sustainable substitute for plastic.

But is CBD ethically sound? Climate change is increasingly becoming a pressing issue that more and more people care about. A product not being sustainable can act as a barrier to many consumers.

Additionally, if the packaging of a product does not state it is sustainable, they won’t question its eco status. For these reasons, it is crucial to discover whether CBD is sustainable at all stages of production, from plant to shelf. Let’s explore this below to determine if CBD is environmentally friendly.

What is CBD, and Where Does it Come From?

Before we get into whether CBD is sustainable, let’s discuss what exactly it is and where it comes from. CBD is short for cannabidiol which is a compound present in the hemp plant. It is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids within this plant.

Some of the others you may have heard of include cannabis and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While the three come from the same plant, they do differ. What makes CBD different from THC and cannabis is it is non-psychoactive.

This means it does not make users feel high. It has become incredibly popular over the last number of years. Finding CBD products these days is not challenging – gummies, coffee, tea, chocolate, and more are at our fingertips from various brands.

Now that you know what CBD is and where it comes from let’s get into how CBD fares on the sustainability scale.

Farming Hemp

It’s no secret that CBD comes from one of the most sustainable crops, hemp. Let’s discuss the requirements this plant has and the farming practices. This will all help in determining whether CBD is environmentally sound.

The farming practices involved with hemp are usually pretty sustainable. This means despite whether farmers care about the environment, they don’t have to do much to ensure their practices are kind to the environment. Compared to cotton, which generally requires a considerable amount of water, hemp uses about 50% less.

In addition to enabling farmers to create CBD products, hemp also opens the door to make other things like textiles and paper. In addition, hemp does not need a vast amount of land to grow. Hemp usually does better being closer to other hemp plants.

It has been said that hemp can produce double the amount of fibre yield per hectare than cotton. However, there are some things farmers can do that make hemp less eco-friendly. In particular, using fertilisers that pose threats to the planet.

For that reason, farmers must ensure their hemp plants are organic. In saying that, this is a minor drawback when you compare cotton’s cons to the planet. It’s clear that hemp is superior when it comes to the farming stages and therefore, so is CBD.

The Production of CBD

When it comes to creating CBD products, there are numerous extraction methods. Some companies use solvents, CO2, and even olive oil to remove the CBD from hemp to add to various products. After reading the words CO2, the sustainability alarms are likely going off in your head.

However, don’t you worry because using CO2 to extract CBD is actually the most sustainable way. The reason behind this is it creates the purest CBD and is also the safest for human consumption. By contrast, solvent methods often do not remove the toxic residues efficiently.

Olive oil is also not a great option when thinking of the environment since it is limited. Therefore, the production of CBD can be kind to the planet and human health depending on the extraction method chosen. In saying that, the only con with the CO2 way is brands using it must have a certain level of knowledge.

In addition, they often need very specific equipment and tools. As a result, it's possible that it'll be quite costly. However, the investment is worth it in terms of not only ethics but also creating excellent products.

Packaging and Distributing CBD Products

After the CBD has been extracted, the next stage is putting it into products and then distributing your products. If you want your CBD brand to be sustainable, there are many things you can do in this stage of production. For example, what packaging are you going to put your products into?

Will the outer packaging be recyclable? Are you going to put your products in glass or plastic containers? Do you plan to arrange for the customer to send back the packaging when they are finished with it and give them a small discount?

These are all things you need to think about if you want your brand to be eco-friendly. In addition, if you are a consumer, this will help you determine how sustainable your favourite CBD brand is. On the distribution side of things, it all depends on whether the company just operates a physical store or does that along with online orders.

Shipping contributes hugely to climate change, especially if the product is coming from further away. In saying that, some companies do want to include everyone, which is understandable. With that, you can avail of sustainable shipping options.

For example, some large companies are going for carbon-neutral shipping or offsetting their emissions. Offsetting emissions essentially means donating to an environmental organisation that will use the funds to plant trees or help people most affected by climate change. Effectively it is doing an excellent environmental action to reduce your carbon footprint.

A company’s shipping methods will help you figure out where they fare on the sustainability scale.

The Verdict: Is CBD Sustainable?

Answering the question “is CBD sustainable” is more complex than you would think. When thinking about sustainability, it is essential to analyse the entire process from start to end. This is precisely what we did here, and the verdict is CBD leans more on the sustainable side.

However, other things can get in the way that makes CBD less sustainable. In particular, the use of pesticides when farming hemp and using solvents or olive oil extraction methods. Additionally, using packaging and distribution methods that are not kind to the planet.

For that reason, if you care about sustainability and protecting the environment, you should research companies thoroughly first. If the information is not available, be sure to ask them. Then, you can confirm whether or not they lean more towards sustainability.

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