Canada: Student plans to reuse waste from the cannabis industry to renovate native habitat
The Canadian cannabis industry produces an astronomical amount of waste and has not yet developed alternatives for reuse. Tons of organic matter are burned or taken to the landfill while they could be used. This non-ecological waste management has a significant impact on the environment as the industry develops.
Zaffia Laplante, a young entrepreneur and native student, seeks to add value to this waste to make it a building material and thus allow indigenous communities to renovate their homes. The latter live in unsanitary conditions that are dangerous for their health. The innovative project of Zaffia Laplante is therefore part of an ecological and social perspective.
Waste Management in the Canadian Cannabis Industry
The Canadian cannabis industry focuses on the production and sale of flowers. The rest of the plant (leaves, stems, roots) is considered waste. According to the Vancouver Sun, this waste could represent 6,000 tons annually from 2020. Their destruction is subject to strict regulations: they must be odorless and unrecognizable, which implies that they are mixed with other materials or burned. . They are most often cremated, shredded, dissolved in vinegar or mixed in cat litter.
In addition to representing a cost for industrialists (landfill, witness and camera requirements, storage conditions), the lack of recycling of this organic material represents a huge waste of raw material. Indeed, the parts of the plant considered as waste are typically those used by the European chanvrière industry. The fibers extracted from the hemp stems are used to manufacture, among other things, hemp textile and concrete (an ecological alternative to cement concrete)
The problem of waste management seems to be on both sides of the Atlantic. What is considered waste in Canada (stems, leaves, roots) is considered as raw material in Europe and what is considered the product in Canada (the flower) is considered waste in Europe. Indeed, European hempmills have the obligation to destroy hemp flowers. Initiatives are being developed in France to promote these “waste” in a health hemp sector centered around the CBD extracted flowers.
The Housing Crisis in Indigenous Communities and the Zaffia Laplante Project
Indigenous communities in Canada are experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis. A large portion of their population lives in unsanitary conditions that favor the development of bacterial diseases and pulmonary infections. Communities lack funds to renovate their habitat and it is invaded by mold. This problem is not new, but this year it has pushed some communities, including the famous First Nation, to declare a state of health emergency.
Ottawa has seized the issue. The government convened a working group to assess the extent of the problem and propose solutions. Funding must be allocated to a long-term native habitat renewal plan. Meanwhile, indigenous communities continue to live in mold and extreme temperatures. It is to find a lasting solution to this problem that Zaffia Laplante has created her company Hempenergy and intends to reuse waste from the cannabis industry in the manufacture of insulating materials.
Zaffia Laplante is a student at Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario and a member of the Metis Nation Indigenous Community. His project earned him acceptance into the Royal Bank of Canada’s Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program and received C $ 450,000. She is currently competing for the Hult Prize in Melbourne; an award that rewards students developing ideas for solving contemporary challenges.