How Properly Managing Cannabis Waste Plays A Huge Role In Your Dispensary

Brandon Quan | Founder

Published: June 13, 2022

In this episode of the Dispensary Marketing Podcast I’m joined by Arman Zeytounyan the CEO of Eco Waste the leading cannabis waste solutions provider in SoCal.

He has pioneered industry standards for cannabis waste compliance and has set EcoWaste on the path to becoming California’s top cannabis waste solutions provider. Through his efforts in community outreach and engagement, he has earned a reputation in the volatile cannabis industry as someone who promotes trust and reliability, building bridges and paving a path for those that follow.

You can find EcoWaste here: https://ecowasteservices.com/

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Cannabud Marketing is the top digital marketing agency for Cannabis Dispensaries. Our specialized expertise will put you in the best position to succeed when working with us.

Transcript

What’s going on? You guys. Welcome to another podcast. This is the dispensary marketing podcast. I’m your host, Brandon Kwan. The founder of can marketing the number one marketing agency for all cannabis friends, trees, both in United States and in Canada.

And I’m here joined with Arman. He is the co-founder and the CEO of Eco waste services. Thank you for coming on the show and welcome aboard. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me, Brandon. No worries. No worries. So let’s just hop right into it. Um, so tell me a little bit about yourself, a little bit about your business and stuff like that.

Sure. Um, entrepreneur had the entrepreneurial spirit, always had its young age, uh, and cuz of a lot of turn events. It led me to being the CEO and co-founder of eco waste. Like you introed me into, um, I’ll just kind of dive into the business a little bit. All let’s do it. Yeah. That’s what we’re here for.

Uh, we’re a cannabis waste management company. We have a focus on compliance and we’re our brand is known for being a reliable cannabis waste company in the Southern California region. Um, it’s a very unusual topic. Not a lot of people know about it. Uh, I’m sure we’ll get into all that, but that’s kind of like a bird’s eye view nutshell of what we do.

Um, we’ve been around since 2018 since it became recreational in California. Uh, but the company has a little bit more history than that. Nice, nice. So, you know, like I told you from our previous chats, I had no clue that this industry was even a thing. So how, you know, you, you mentioned you’re always, you know, youre an entrepreneur, uh, at heart.

Uh, so walk me through, I guess maybe not all of your ventures, but what was the thing right before you did eco waste and then tell me how you then transitioned into doing what you’re doing right now. Yeah. Uh, right before eco waste, I was, um, I had a company that did medical staffing. So basically what that was is, um, patients that received home care or hospice care.

Um, these agencies would oftentimes, you know, use contractors or contractor companies like mine, um, to send out physical therapists, occupational therapists or certain medical professionals that those patients needed. Um, so I was that staffing agency. That’s the company I had. Uh, and I ran it for a little bit about a year and a half.

And then I decided that industry wasn’t for me. So I sold that company, um, kind of went on, I drifted a little bit from there between, and then that’s kind of where eco waste was from. Um, my business partner at the time at the staffing agency also had a medical waste manage company. Um, and we kind of just joined forces and kind of led to the, again, the events that, you know, birth eco waste.

Right. So it was, did you always have an inch? Like, was this always a thing that was like, Hey, okay, waste, waste, adjacent cannabis. Or was it, you know, something, you know, was it just general waste products or maybe a different niche in waste? How did you kind of come to the cannabis base? So when me and my business partner joined forces on the medical waste company, when he brought me into that company, right.

Um, we started kind of working towards that and then just the term, just everything happened naturally. Um, people started calling us for cannabis waste and we had a couple of friends in the industry. Um, when everything became recreational, they started, uh, getting the emergency regulations and started questioning us since we were in medical waste.

Hey, like, what is this? What, what are we supposed to do here? Right. Um, they looked to us for that information and, you know, that’s where we kind of saw it where, oh, there’s something here and, uh, we just dive right into it. Nice. So did you, so I guess from the context of starting your business, you know, just my own curiosity yeah.

Um, one of the biggest struggles is always like, okay, how do I get people to buy my product or a service? Right. Like how does that absolutely. So did you, did you grow that because like, was the, I guess the initial foundation of that business from an existing network, from the medical space and then how did you then I guess transition from bridging out from your own network, maybe referrals and word of mouth to then kind of building the business that you have now, a lot of the fundamentals that people wouldn’t think about, you know, um, mailers that’s that was our primary.

Yeah. You wouldn’t think about it. Direct mail marketing. Yes. Um, we just sent out letters to everybody. Hey, this is a thing you guys are all looking to get licensed, contact us. We have questions, we’d be happy to help. Right. Um, of course our small little, you know, network was the very beginning. It, um, enabled us to get the ideas, figure it out, test on them, talk through, talk it through with them.

Uh, but the basic form marketing was really our secret sauce. We just sent out the letters. Um, and then it led on to doing AdWords. Um, and then, uh, pretty much we just let that cycle grow until it became a branding game where yeah. We started, you know, getting known a little bit and then the referrals started kicking in.

So you started offline advertising, you know, with the mailers and then obviously transition into online. Um, I’m curious, the, the volume of those mailers, how many, I don’t know if you have the number off the top of your head, but I’ve had a few conversations with people on like, you know, just the volume of what they’re doing.

Just isn’t enough, whether it’s cold outreach, they’re trying to message people. Or it’s cold calling. They’re trying to call people. They’re like, Hey, I spoke to 10 people today. It’s like, no, you need to speak to a hundred people per day. Right. Right. What was your experience, uh, on that for the mailer side? Did you get immediate results right away? Because like maybe the timing was really, really good.

Or did you send out like a hundred thousand pieces of mail? No, it was timing. It was, the timing was really good. Um, everyone was trying to get licensed and in the very beginning, um, the, the department, the regulating agency in California for cannabis, um, they had public, they had the information for these applicants public, right.

Their addresses and their names. Oh, okay. So I, I saw that I took advantage of it and I just started, uh, mailing those, those letters out to them and just kind of repeated that cycle. I didn’t look to get more people to send mailers to. I just kept right. Targeting those same people because it was a new market.

Anybody we got was a benefit to us. Right. Right. And one of the, the big things then when people are transitioning into this cannabis space, you know, highly regulated compliance issues, legislation is like all these different things, right? Yeah. You mentioned you’re on the medical side. Did you need to kind of tweak anything in the business so that you can be compliant on the, on the cannabis side or for the most part was medical waste were all the things you were doing for medical waste, all encompassing for cannabis waste as well.

A lot of it, not all things. Um, and it was basically the core principles of the running, the business that we based. We duplicated everything else we had to kind of create. Um, we had to create a standard for, there were no other waste companies. We were one of two at the time. Right. Uh, and we saw the opportunity to take what we knew from the medical waste, apply it to the cannabis waste and add what the cannabis licensees needed specifically mm-hmm um, because their requirements were different than the medical waste requirements.

Right. So all we had to do was just kind of, you know, adapt a little bit, uh, change the skin of it and just apply it. Nice. Okay. Cool. And then now how, how have you grown, I guess, since you said 2018, correct? Correct. So over the past four years, how, how does it look in terms of like, how do you grow as a business? Do you just work with more people? Do you get more like trucks, I guess, you know, I’m very, very new to this, this entire space.

So like how, how does growing bigger for your business work? Obviously you wanna service more dispensaries and cultivations and all that stuff, but like how do you grow essentially? Yeah. Yeah. Well, good question. I mean, right now, um, we’re actually no longer on Edwards. They completely took us down about a year ago.

That’s okay. After, after three years of using them, they kind of just shot us down. They’re like, Nope, because of, you know, cannabis, we can’t have you on there. Um, I’m hoping to dispute it. We’ll see. Um, but like any other, yeah. Right. Like any other business, um, screwing more clients, you getting trucks is a big thing.

Uh, but the secret in my business and when you’re dealing with trucks is the less trucks you have, the better you are off because you’re less, you know, less expenses. Right. So if I can route more clients with one truck, one driver, I become more efficient. I can increase my margins. You can allow me to expand, which eventually will allow me to decrease my cost to the customer.

Right. Uh, but expansion for me right now looks like just getting more clients and expanding new territories outside of Southern California. Right. So do you plan on taking overall California? Do you plan on heading specific cities? Like what’s the game plan for expansion, I guess in the next little bit, yeah.

We’re looking at a couple territories. North Cal Northern California is, you know, the primary. Right. Um, it’s just different challenge that presents us there because, um, Northern California is a lot more spread out than Southern California. So for a transportation company, with the prices of diesel, it’s not as simple as just, Hey, let’s just go there.

Right. Um, and then we are looking at other states, Arizona, Nevada, I would say are two other states that we’re interested in. Nothing officially yet. Nice. Nice. So you heard it here first, you need a eco weights company, right? Northern California. I mean, uh, Nevada for, let me, uh, Nevada, Arizona, you know, uh, Armand’s the guy that you need to go to.

We we’ll plug all of his information at the end of that, that episode. So be sure to, to continue listening, , we’ll take care of you guys. Right. Exactly. Exactly. So, okay. That’s really awesome. That was mostly for my C I was just very curious, like how you, you know, your business worked in itself, so let’s get back to kind of what you, you know, the importance of you guys.

So why should people partner, like, like, why are you a thing? Like why do you exist and what value do do you provide to, you know, the people that have cannabis products to them disposal? Yeah. It’s also a simple answer, uh, compliance and labor. Uh, the, the idea is that, you know, there are certain things that a licensee has to follow in their compliance framework, right.

Uh, part of it is how to dispose their waste. Uh, and that’s where we come in and we assist with that. Uh, it’s uh, the value is that having a third party perform this task, then doing it internally enables you a little bit level of confidence, um, that, you know, if a regular comes and asks you what happened here, you have a third party that gives you a documentation that said, Hey, I, we took this waste.

This is the serial number. This is the information. And we’re vetting it essentially. Right. Um, so it really decreases the amount of illicit activity that could happen on the licensee side. Right. Uh, the second part is labor, right? Like any other business you outsource labor, why spend, you know, your employees time taking the waste to a facility to recycle it or dispose of it when you can outsource it, don’t have to worry about worker’s comp insurance wasting that person’s time put them in front of your, you know, customers sell more product.

That should be your primary focus, um, you know, and then outsource everything else. Right. Uh, so that’s, I would say those are two major value points that we provide. Okay. Yeah. That, that makes complete sense. And are you seeing, like, obviously not everyone is gonna use a, an external company to do this, and like you said, you have employees or managers, a general managers that are, you know, kind of going out, maybe taking their own car and like, you know, driving right, right.

All the way. Are you seeing any kind of like, obviously your focus is on your business and not on what everyone else is doing, but are you seeing it being an issue where people are trying to do the whole done, like do it yourself type thing, and they are making issues and then they are getting in trouble with like the disposal of waste.

Yeah. There hasn’t been any issues. Um, as far as the, on retail side, there, there haven’t been any issues that I’ve heard of. Usually retailers will be more inclined to use it, uh, to use, not do it internally to outsource it. Right. Um, versus like someone like a cultivator who might have a little bit more manpower and was more willing to U you know, send out staff to do something like that.

Right. I haven’t heard of any issues on, you know, a legal side of it, uh, from them doing it themselves. Um, it’s just more, uh, of an issue, internal issue that comes up where they just don’t wanna deal with anymore. I’ve had clients that, um, started out with us, left us, do it in house, saved some money, come back with us.

Right. So it just, it makes ends up making the most sense for them to just outsource it. Cause I’m sure it just saves a lot of headache. It’s like, Hey person a is gonna come, just take all this stuff. Just make sure you leave it wherever it needs to get left. And they’ll go ahead and pretty much handle the rest of it.

I’m assuming that’s how it works. I don’t wanna overcomplicate things. I like, no, it’s, it’s as simple as you say. Like, most people don’t even notice when we come in and out like, oh, they, they show, you know, just we’re in and out. Our guys come in, take the stuff, go out. You, you just, now you just see an empty container there.

Ready to be filled up again. Yeah. Yeah. How often do you see your traditional refu guy? You know, like you don’t really see just, I, I hear them all. Exactly. Exactly. I’m like, ah, six o’clock in the morning. Like I just hear this ver thing coming on. Maybe some honking of the horns, cuz they’re going too slow.

They’re making traffic and stuff, but I mean, yeah, that’s, that’s what you want. Right? Like you don’t want to be a disturbance and as long as like you’re, you’re unseen and the job’s getting done, I feel like you, you guys have done your part, you know exactly. That’s exactly right. So do you sign, like in, in terms of working with, with, I’m trying to just paint a picture for people, again, don’t even know what’s going on in terms of like picking up waste and stuff like that.

Okay. So process comes in, I am either a correct me if I’m wrong. If the process is different on the cultivation side versus the retail side and I’m like, Hey, there’s this issue. I end up Googling something like that. You pop up, you and I have this first conversation. How does that conversation go in terms of like, not necessarily the sale, but more so like the education side, right? Like, so essentially I come in as just, I have this not issue, but I have some waste and stuff like that.

How do you walk me through the process of actually starting to work with you? Yeah. I mean, if it’s someone that has completely no sense of how this works, right. Sometimes you know, people will have an idea. Yeah. Um, but if you, if they have no idea what’s going on how to do it, we kind of have a conversation.

I usually start off by trying to, you know, get a feel for what’s going on their end. Right. What kind of needs they have, whether they actually looking for, um, we’ll just talk it out a little bit. I’ll ask some questions about their business. Uh, and then we’ll start talking about what, uh, I’ll start breaking it up on what the regulation is.

Okay. What we do. Okay. So we’ll start by the regulation. I’ll explain, you know, cuz I’ve read it a million times, at least my section. Right. I know that part very well. um, I would hope. Yeah. Yeah. Right. so I’ll start, you know, you know, going that off with them. I’ll explain, I’ll break it down to them.

Um, I’ll explain the different definitions that there might be in play there. Um, just to make sure that they’re clear on what means, what right. Uh, give ’em a kind of a guidance on the, you know, the framework of what the regulations say, and then I’ll go on to explain of what we will do in for them to help them, what kind of service we provide them.

Right. Um, and that’s where I guess the sales part would come in. Yeah. Um, but if you want to get a little bit more specifics, what I’ll do is I’ll break down for them. Um, first of I’ll ask kind of waste. They have, you know, cause that, that’s the first question that a company like me should ask. Um, what type of ways do you generate and what are your current practices on maintaining, keep storing it and disposing of it.

Uh, and then based on that, I’ll explain to them what they, what I think they should do. Um, I’ll explain to them that they need to have a designated storage area on site, uh that’s requirement by the regular, by the DCC. And then I’ll start explaining to them that, you know, when you, when you’re ready for dispose of it, there are some steps you have to take about rendering versus Des destruction to different terminologies, uh, or, or terms I would say.

And we just kind of go through it and it’s a case by case thing, some people have a certain level of knowledge already, some people don’t right. And I’ll, I’ll build it based on what their needs are. Okay. So store a has, uh, the recycling baby compost, if there really is store right. Regular garbage. Right.

And then the, the cannabis waste. Right. So they would, then whoever’s in the store puts and you know, I want to touch on like the whole single use products and stuff like that. I think you have some really awesome insights on the educational side for, for disposal of things. But just for the purposes of this question, they would have pretty much those four or three main things.

Right. Um, what is the process if like, I don’t know, uh, employee put something wrong inside the container and you’re like, Hey, this is not cannabis waste. We are, you know, we don’t dispose of this. Like what is your action then? Like yeah. Great question. Yeah. Great question. Because that happens all the time I’m sure does.

Yeah. and it would depend on the level of contamination. Okay. Um, contamination. All right. I’ll use that’s the term we would call. Yeah. That’s the term we would call it. Uh, cuz we, we do segment the waste when we pick it up. So if we’re, let’s say going to a cultivator or use the same example, a retailer, uh, we’ll provide them with two types of containers, one for their organic material, live flour or edibles.

Okay. And then our container for all packaging and all material that, uh, cannot be compost or cannot be recycled, recycled. Okay. Uh, so if let’s say on, in the green container where the flower and the edibles are supposed to be, uh, there’s some packaging, if there’s one, two jars and we’ll receive that at the warehouse, we’ll fi we’ll do it.

We’ll take care of it. We’ll take it out and move it to where it’s supposed to be. Right, right. But if it’s excessive, where, where on occasion sometimes we’ll get, you know, our container filled with liquid, for example, ah, 50% liquid. That’s a big no-no uh, in the first, in the first instance, you know, we would let, uh, give them a warning, Hey, you can’t this, this is how you properly would take care of this kind of waste or this kind material.

Um, and then the second time we would return the container back to them and we penalized them for the labor that we had to do to return it because I can’t dispose of that. Right. It, it would be a challenge for me to take care of that when that’s not my waste stream that I collect. Yeah. Have you thought of having an add on service that just does regular disposal or are you just sticking with the cannabis waste? We’re just sticking with the cannabis waste.

We prefer to stay specialized. Most people use the regular refu companies like waste management Republic, whatever. Yeah. Um, to throw that away, oftentimes in a retail environment, um, the lots will have like a shared dumpster, right. That all the other units will have. So, you know, we, we won’t, we don’t get tangled up in that.

Okay. Cool. And then are you seeing, other than maybe, you know, the contamination issue, are you seeing any of these and again, I’ll use the Spencer as just as a word, but just essentially whoever, you know, you service in the cannabis space that does waste. Right. So we can use the cultivators or anything like that.

Are you seeing any like major things that they’re not supposed to be doing when it comes to waste, whether that’s related to working with you or even not working with you that they should be doing? Yeah. Um, a, a major part of the regulation actually, um, kind of touching on what I was saying earlier about the differences between rendering and instruction.

Right, right. The term rendering in par field and waste well in the cannabis industry for cannabis waste, um, means that you need to make the life product unusable and unrecognizable prior to disposal. And this is rendering, sorry, this is what this is rendering. Yeah. Rendering. Okay. This is what it means to render your product in, in, in our world.

Uh, and oftentimes, um, licensees won’t do that. And it’s, I would say probably the most important part of the cannabis waste regulations. Um, this is how you decrease the amount of illicit activity that could happen with that product. So let’s say you had, you know, flour and edibles, just sitting in a container in, in your business.

Uh, couple of scenarios could happen. An employee can take a nugget or two without you noticing, right. Someone can break into your facility, take it, something happens. They cl Sue you, whatever, some kind of damages because of what happened there, they took, took an edible, felt sick. Now that you’re gonna get sued for it, even though they broke into your place.

Um, so things kind scenarios like that could happen. Um, also, Hey, you’re giving this to a third party now and it’s not rendered. What if, you know, we don’t do this, but what if that transfer company does something like that? Ah, yes. Takes something out of it. It’s a protection against us as well. Um, so we were very strict in, in reminding our clients to do this, that whenever that whenever you’re ready to dispose your product, you have to make sure to render it.

Um, and that way it eliminates all questions. Right. Right. I okay. Oh, I, so I thought that part of what you do is that you also rendered now that I know the term rendered the product for them, but whoever, whatever party that has a waste, they’re responsible for rendering this product before anything else.

Oh yeah. They’re responsible for it. And I, I know that there are, um, probably one or two comp with my competition that do provide that rendering service. Okay. Um, frankly, I don’t engage in that right now. Right. Um, I think it’s just a, a little bit of a breach of our responsibility and it could create, you know, issues going forward, like, oh, you were supposed to do this.

You were, you know, and then you don’t wanna get involved with that. And we want to make sure that that control still remains in the licensee’s hands. Right. Um, plus you don’t have to pay for it, you know, why would you pay me to do something that you can do very easily? Exactly. Exactly. So it just, you know, that’s where we kind of stay away from that as well.

We always try and remind them to do their part. Yeah. So on that topic of like, you can do it yourself and do it easily. Let’s say there is like a Nu that I don’t know for whatever it has mold on it or something like that. And you said the definition is to render it unrecognizable and unusable or in edible, which may be in a gummy form for whatever reason they throw out.

Right. How do you then render these products? Like what is the process to do that? How do we, or the, uh, how would a licensee do that? How do the licensees do it? Yeah. Okay. Um, there’s different ways and there’s no, I would say set like this is the right way. What we advise is that, um, the licensees will use an organic material at the whole time.

So this would be soil, mulch, wood chips, kitty, little dirt, something like that. Um, and then mix it up into the product, make sure that you could add a little bit of water to make it kind of stick. Um, just so that, you know, you can’t just dig, you know, get a shovel and dig through. Right, right, right. Uh, yeah.

Make it a little sludgy, but not liquidy. Yeah. Uh, that’s how, what we advise is to use something organic because if they use something, um, there have been scenarios where, you know, a licensee is used like bleach and bleach is considered hazardous. Right. That’s a completely different, you know, animal.

Yes. And, and as it is serial waste. Yeah. Yeah. And we’re gonna reject that on site. We’re not gonna take that. Um, so we, we would try to be very clear about what they would do, but that would be what we suggest is to use something organic to make it, you know, unusable and unrecognizable. Okay. So you would yeah.

Mix it with something that, you know, um, doesn’t allow the person to use it. Okay. That makes pretty much, yeah. It’s not, it’s not, it doesn’t sound like it’s a hundred percent solution. Right. You know, but it works for the most part. Yeah. It does the job until, you know, something is created in replacement of it.

Yeah. Right, right. Well, that’s why I was curious. I was like, okay, well, like you can’t burn it. Yeah. And you can’t, you can’t cut it up and grind it. Like, cuz that is a product. Right. So, so what is a process? So, okay. That makes a lot of sense. You mix it up with something, add some water. It’s like a sludge now and then you dispose it.

Okay. All right. Makes and then what was the other term? Rendering and destruction Des. Okay. Well that makes destruction. Oh, is yeah. It’s, it’s that one. It it’s supposed to be disposal. They just, you know, the regular is call it destruction. Okay. But it really just means disposal. It’s what we do when we take it to the end facility where the end disposal facility.

Okay. So once it’s hauled away, it’s sent over to either for compost or for a landfill and it’s disposed it’s destructive. Ah, okay. And is it, is it the same landfill as just regular landfills, but just a section of the landfill that’s only cannabis. Like what does your end process now look like, boom. You take this, this waste product boom got, then you go to landfill.

How, how does that work now? How does that dispose a process where for you guys? Yeah. So, well initially we already have the customer segmenting the type of waste. Right. We’ll have the organics in their own barrels and we’ll have solids in their own barrels. Right. Solids still get landfill. There is no output, which I’m sure we’ll touch on, on, you know, plastics and glass and recycling and all that.

Yeah. Um, and then the organics, it gets into their compost stream. So these facilities that most people think that, you know, a landfill just means a place where everything’s put on a whole, but oftentimes these facilities that operate landfills also have composting and different types of recycling and sustainability things happening there.

Um, like they’ll oftentimes they’ll create R and G they’ll have pipes inside the, in the E the Hills that will sorry. R R and G. Yeah. Renewable natural gas, renewable natural gas. Okay. Yeah. They’ll, they’ll uh, they’ll pretty much, um, collect them as much methane as they can. They make guests out of it.

Right. So these facilities do a lot of interesting things like that. So, uh, but to us, they have a compost area. They have a landfill area. Yeah. We deliver the material to them. They designate what they wanna do. That’s their responsibility at that point. Yeah. Oh, oh look opening up a a completely new thing.

Like there’s, there’s so many things. It reminds me of, um, there’s this show on discovery channel? Uh, it was like called there was dirty jobs with micro. I don’t know if you ever, you know, at least came across it and like, you all did all these small things and, you know, quote unquote dirty. But like, you’re like a lot of these things are like, these are necessary to kind of like make the world do what it does.

Right. Like nobody really thinks about, okay, I’m done with this product. I’m gonna throw it away. What happens to you? Just ignore that, that part of it. Right, right. Um, so that’s why I find this quite fascinating to just get an actual idea of kind of like how that process looks. Oh, me too. I had no idea until I got into it.

And I was like, what? Like this, this place kind of place exists. Right, right, right. Um, so, okay. So let’s, uh, chat about the, uh, the single use stuff. So we spoke about the disposal. I mean, I think, I think I have a pretty good idea of, of that now, but I’m imagining a lot of these single use products, maybe they’re mixed with glass and you said with oil, some with plastic and you know, it’s not as simple as, Hey, this is organic and this is non-organic, here are the two, but these bits and pieces of components now go into these different areas, but they’re not easy to kind of take apart.

They’re not modular in any way. They’re just built in one form. And like you said, I think a lot of these designs are like ignoring the second half of the disposal part. Right. Mm-hmm um, so yeah. Would love to hear a take on like, I guess what is going on in right now and maybe how you can maybe educate some of the people and how they can do better for disposal of these things.

Yeah. I mean, it’s a, it’s a tough one to crack because, um, you know, on the consumer level, um, all consumers are, I wouldn’t say all, but you know, it, it’s a common thing that consumers want to purchase products that come from are being recycled right at the end of their lifetime, um, or end of their use.

Right. Um, it’s a big selling point. It’s a great thing for the environment. Uh, the, the challenge is, is that it’s not always as simple as, you know, Hey, let’s start recycling. So take the retail, you know, take a retail licensee for example, right? They’ll have the live products. So that’s the flower edibles that can go into the compost.

But then on their solid side that we categorize all in one major category, they have plastics glass and they’ll have vapes and those vapes will have batteries on them. So that’s three different categories of wastes. We have plastic glass battery, um, those three things have three different outputs.

You can’t take them to. The one answer does not solve all three of those problems. You have to have, find an answer for each one of those things. And the big challenge is, is that, um, was a couple years back, China stopped buying our recyclables, our plastics and glass. So now the states have to kind of figure out what to do with it.

But specifically here, uh, specifically in the cannabis industry, um, for now in the current climate, oftentimes material that comes from the cannabis world is not touchable. Nobody wants to touch material that comes from the cannabis world because it still has cannabis residue on it or something of that long along those lines.

And lot these times, these organizations that recycle and have the ability to take on that kind of waste to put back into the system to create more material out of they’re either public, you know, or they’re large enough companies where the shareholders don’t wanna deal with it. It just, it’s not, it’s more of a hassle than it’s worth for them.

Exactly. You know, exactly the volume is not even there, you know? Yeah. Just in California, there’s up to 10,000 licensees, but there’s probably four haulers, five haulers like us, you know? So it’s like, how are it’s, it’s not enough to make it quant, uh, make the companies want to be able to take that waste now.

Right. Right. So I guess, are you trying to fill that void that these other guys can’t do, but like you said, there’s a disposal side where some of these places don’t even want to take this. Yeah. Right. So I guess, are you trying to fill that void? Yeah. Well, I wanna say fill the void. I’m trying to find little loopholes and little solutions that could at least solve it for my clients.

Right. And then if that works out, it can be duplicated. Right. Uh, and that’s what I do. I try and engage with smaller entities that might be more willing to accept it, or might have a loophole in doing it. They may not have the same, uh, burdens as the larger, uh, companies will have larger facilities. Right.

So they’re more willing to take it and deal with it. Um, but it still presents a challenge because even those companies, you know, they, the way the waste world works, um, the recycling world works. Everybody kind of knows each other. Everybody kind of works with each other. So oftentimes they might just be a middle man to the larger facility.

Ah, okay. So they have to also kind of find that balance. So it’s, it’s a, it’s definitely a challenge. Yes. Are you finding it becoming slightly easier with like, as time comes on and as you know, cannabis becomes more of a mainstream thing or like, is it still like, Hey, this is a very, still very, very difficult to do.

It’s still pretty difficult to do. Um, again, because the, the amount of volume that’s generated in the cannabis industry when we collect is not enough to be able to deliver it to these companies. Right. So cons, consumers believe that, you know, and rightfully so there there’re millions of people buying cannabis products, every, you know, all the time.

And yeah, they think about like, what am I doing with this glass of jar? Just going in a trash can. I’d love to recycle it, but how are we gonna collect that from that? Right. We’re gonna send, they’re gonna send a driver to everybody’s house for one or two jars or PLA, you know, no, you’re not, it just doesn’t make sense.

So, um, I think until we find a solution that solves it for the consumer appears, we won’t have a real, you know, uh, full scale solution to recycling cannabis waste, uh, plastics and glass. Right. So if I have a jar and I just toss it and I think it’s, Hey, is, is glass. I’m gonna recycle it, put it there. Uh, whatever company would like, what do they do with that? Then they, they just toss it.

They don’t recycle that though. Now. Yeah. I mean, if you’re throwing it in your regular refu, it’s just going. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So it’s magic Republic. Yeah. Just if you’re going your regular trash, right. You’re just going in a hole along with everything else. Right. Right. So I would say on the consumer side, I guess if you don’t want anybody to know, you would physically have to go in, maybe wash out the container, rip off all the labels.

Yeah. Kind of do that things at least if it’s a jar. Right. Yeah. I don’t think we’ve even touched on the vape pens, but like, is that what you would advise? I mean, consumers will probably have a lot better chance getting away with recycling material than a company, one or two items to, you know, they might, they might let it slip through, you know, without having to take off the label.

Right. But if I go in there with a truckload, it changes the conversation a little bit, you know, of course it’s like, oh, wait a minute. You know, you have this much stuff. Like, what are, where did you get this from again? That’s, you know, that’s the kinda look I usually get like, yeah, it’s like, I’m a company it’s legit.

Like, but you know, those, that’s just the challenge during you still got the issues. Some issues. Okay. Well, I mean, Hey, you know, uh, entrepreneur, we solve problems, right. So I’m sure if you can practic code, this is definitely something that can, you know, be done. And as you said, you know, it’s, it’s a network where people know people and know people, so right.

As you start talking with people, you’re gonna start knowing when more and more people. And I think this is definitely something that, you know, not everyone can do. Right. Which is one of the things you want in business where it’s like, you wanna hire barrier to entry. So not everyone comes in and does it right.

Right. Of course. Yeah. No, and it’ll be a domino effect, you know, once, once one or two, some yeah. And then just we’ll just go. Yeah. Once one company thinks and sees that they can make some money, then the, the rest of them will follow. Right. Exactly. I guess. Good and bad problem. But I mean, for what you’re doing, I think it will be a good thing, you know, hopefully you’re on top though.

well, exactly. That’s, that’s the plan. Exactly. That, that’s the thing. So, uh, I wanted to touch on like the consumer behavior portion too. Right. You see mentioned you had some insights on the consumer behavior, maybe on some of the single use stuff, but yeah. You know, want to hear your thoughts on, on that, I guess consumer behavior, just with regards to cannabis and if you had any other insights, not cannabis, maybe well, I mean, um, well expand that question for me a little bit, um, consumer behavior when purchasing cannabis, or are you talking about like licensees or, well, uh, I mean time permitting.

I, I would love to kind of, you know, talk about both, right. I mean, on the consumer level. Right. It’s interesting to see how, I think, especially in the retail space, that whole like fast fashion thing, if we’re gonna relate to have an analogy to like waste and stuff like that, you have all these like online brands.

Right. And you have your, your regular retail stores, like your H and M’s fast fashion and, you know, documentaries blow up and like people are now kind of changing what they do with, with their clothes. Right, right. Um, I, I’m assuming there’s probably something similar in the cannabis space where it’s like, yeah.

You know, like you said, these, these pens super easy, just pick it up, like just use it once, toss it out kind of thing. Um, so yeah. Love to hear thoughts on that. And even on the licensee side, I don’t have too much experience in that, but if you have some insights on that, that’d be cool. Yeah. I mean, as, as far as the batteries, um, just to touch on that a little bit on the waste side of it, that one’s presents an even bigger challenge than the glass and the jars, uh, the glass and the plastics, right? Because you have a pen, the pen has a battery and has a cartridge.

Yep. That cartridge could be made a plastic glass, oftentimes a plastic polymer. And then inside of it is gonna have oil. And if you, you say smoke, all of it, there’s still gonna be some oil residue left in that. Right. But since it’s single use, you can’t detach it. So disposing this thing that has three different types of waste in the waste content becomes burdensome because that battery has to be sent to a different type of recycler who can then take the battery itself out of it, the aluminum, whatever it’s inside of it, use it for their purposes.

And then the cartridges, well, what are you gonna do with that? That has oil residue stuck on it. You can’t really recycle it cause it can’t be cleaned. Right. And if it can’t be cleaned, it can’t be reused. Right. So you’re kind of stuck with it. So that ends up going to a hole anyways. But when they’re together, what you do with it, you can’t take it to the guy who’s recycling the battery because it has this attachment to this cartridge issue that has cannabis material in it.

And then you can’t take it to the landfill because it’s the battery. Right. It needs to be, you know, it could be dangerous. What do you do with it? It’s, it’s a question that I have to ask myself a lot. I know I’m asking you, but like I’m asking myself really like, what do we do with it? Like, we’re like, what kind of, where’s the answer lie, you know? Right.

It’s a very, very tough one to kind of figure out. Yeah. Um, I’m sure you’ve thought about this question in a lot of detail, cuz I think this would be another unlock for your business um, but I mean like, yeah, like the, the only thing I can probably think of is that like with a lot of single use products, again, not in necessarily in this space, but in, just in general, right.

It’s normally like one to three manufacturers that’s making the core mold of whatever is being made. Right. And then it’s just boom, that’s slap on a brand and a label and some coloring and stuff like that. And then maybe you have your proprietary cannabis oil inside the container. Right. The only thing I can probably think of is that there has to be a way to take it apart.

Right. Like one way there must be one way. Sure. If you figure out one of those ways, you would hope that it applies to most of these pens that you’re talking about. Right. I don’t know the specific way, but if there’s a way to figure crack this code of like, Hey, I have this tool that allows me to take this part super easily.

There’s the, the oil, here’s the battery. I do think that there’s a scalable way to do that. Right. Cause then the opposite of that is like, okay, let’s destroy it, cut it in half. And like, you know, that’s pretty much, well, well let me throw another curve ball at that. Because if, if let’s say there is a way currently there is a way to dis you know, separate it, who’s gonna be doing that.

The licensee or, or are we gonna be doing that? If the licensee does it increase of labor, increase of time spent on it. If we do it, same thing that we have to charge on the cost, uh, the pass on the co to the customer for it. Right. Right. Who wins, you know, who really wins in that scenario? I’ll say I’ll win because I could charge for it.

Right. But is that really, if, if customers are being drowned with expenses AF more and more after another, it’s not really a good thing for me either. So, um, it becomes, well, how do we, how do we figure that out now? Who’s gonna do the labor for this. Yeah, yeah. Look, I’s gonna be a curve, but I told you, like, yeah, I don’t even know.

Um, and then I, I think even on that, it’s like people who do use these products, like, are they taking it back to the retailers, to, for them to dispose of like, they’re probably just tossing it in the garbage anyways. Right. So you’re having a lot of like issues on both sides where you, you probably can’t even collect the volume that’s required.

That would make it beneficial for the people. You know what I mean? Yeah. So it’s, it is, yeah. It is definitely something big. And I, I think it’s probably one of those things, unfortunately, where like nothing is going to be done until the problem’s big enough to where if somebody can make money, then it’ll be good.

Right, right. Um, you know, you talk about all these different environmental things. Like we’ve been shouting about like, you know, uh, climate change and all these things for so however long, but like, do we really see any actionable change going on in terms of like, Hey, we are going to do this so on and so forth and not until recently where we’re seeing actual things going on.

It’s like, oh, okay, now, now we can do it. So it’s a slow burn. It’s a slow burn. I, I, I, I just, you know, every time I come across someone who has a passion for, you know, the environment, you know? Right. And I always try and explain that as well. It’s like, listen, you know, um, do a little bit more research, kind of see how difficult it is.

You know, you, it’s not as simple as we should recycle. I think everybody on the planet will agree that if we can recycle and we can make use of products another time without having to put it in a hole and affect our environment. I think everybody’s gonna say, yeah, sure. Let’s, let’s figure it out. Let’s do it.

Um, but it’s a process, you know, we’re, you’re talking about changing systems that have been around for a long time. Oh yeah, for sure. And like, I, I see it a lot. Like a lot of these, the retailers, they are putting forth the messaging of, Hey, these are eco-friendly products. Cause I know, you know, I, you know, when this, this space first started and I think they still are now, like you buy one pre-role and it’s literally in this big plastic container, that’s like, and it’s huge.

And I’m like, look like you’re putting forth how environmentally friendly you wanna be and you know how you wanna do this properly, but you’re selling these like these containers, like again, can’t even really be recycled unless you move off all the, the, the paper and stuff like that. Right. So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a mix, you know, the value exchange.

And at this time the value exchange promotes people is just money, right? Like if they can get the product for cheap, if they can get it for fast, they’re gonna be happy about that. Not necessarily worrying or even thinking about the longer term consequences and like, you know, I don’t think anyone is, is virtuous enough to just think, Hey, I’m gonna worry about, you know, 50 years down the line, what the earth is gonna look like all the time.

But I do think if that, if, if one of your main core tenants of brand messaging is, Hey, we have all these recyclable products, we do all these things, but then your actions are doing something else. There is some disconnect between what you’re saying as a brand and what you’re actually doing as a, it’s a, it’s a simple thing, you know, if your cost of getting that materials higher and you charge higher for it, are you really passionate? Like, are you really, are you virtuous about it? Is that really how you making a change? No, you’re, you’re just finding another way to increase your, your, your, your price point.

Right. That’s essentially, cause you’re passing it through. Yeah. You know, you’re not gonna take a hit because if you take a hit you’re, you know, the retailer a couple blocks away from you might take your business. Yeah. Yeah. And I see it all the time. Know? Yeah. Sorry, sorry to interrupt. No, no, no, not to go on a rent, but like I see it.

It’s like, Hey, buy our t-shirt and we’re gonna, I don’t know, plant some trees and t-shirt’s like $80 and it’s like, yeah, well, you know, what kind of tree are you planning for exactly. Right. Like they’re, they have higher margins. They’re getting more people because they think, think it’s a social cause.

Um, yeah. You know, and, but not to, to kind of like poo poo, if you wanna use the word. Right. Yeah. Um, I’m a big fan of like social entrepreneurship. I do think that, you know, when you have this positive feedback, we like, Hey, I have a business that has these systems and processes in place that can generate me a, a set amount of money.

Right. And you’re set up, you know, why not either you can build another business that kind of like makes slightly less money, but then has some sort of environmental ver not environmental, but I, I think some sort of cause that would benefit right. Something, right. Whether it’s innovation, whether it’s the environment, whether it’s people.

Cause like I personally think there’s, there’s like kind of three main things that you can really do. Right. It’s like, are you innovating as a species? Right. Are you flying us to the moon and going back and forth? Right. Right. Are you helping the environment, the planet that we’re in or are you helping people? The people that are actually on the planet.

Right. And I think those are due to very, very, quite a very high overview. Those are the three main things. Right? Yeah. Um, and I know that’s attracting from this entire call, but you know, I feel like that’s an AP to example just based on the conversation we’re having right now. No, no, AB it absolutely is.

And again, it it’s, I think, you know, I, I won’t pretend that I’m a major environmentalist, you know, I believe that if we can solve that solution and I’m in a position to do so I’m happy to participate in that. But my, my primary focus is, is my client is, is effective creating an effective service for them because if I can create a service that solves their problems at a cost, that’s reasonable to them.

Yep. You know, that is me doing something for my, you know, my society, my, my community, exactly. The people. Yeah. The people. And then as we grow and it leads to better things then that gets also shared with, with the clients. Right. So, um, yeah. I think it’s the key is gonna be, at what point do we, at what point do we have, um, is it cost effective to be sustainable? Exactly.

It can be cost effective and be sustainable. That is the point that we wanna, you know, right. Yeah. The balance we’re working towards. Yeah. What’s where I think everyone’s working towards exactly. And you know, the same, I told you on this call, I was like, look like, you know, podcasts are great. I love meeting new people.

Just having conversations like this. Yeah. Like, you know, we wouldn’t have had something like this, you know, just some something stimulating like this, if I didn’t have this podcast, but at the same time, I told you, like my client results are like the number one thing. So as soon as this starts getting overwhelming, like I would have to like, Hey, you know, this paper off.

And you know, that’s why I might not do the whole mixing stuff. Might not do all the editing stuff. But I do think that this is for me as of right now, anyways, my fine balance, cuz I can go ahead do this marketing stuff, do the context. And but most importantly, fulfill good things for my client, you know? And as you grow, you’ll be able to become more efficient, do more things, create better products, better solutions and services, and now you win the customer wins.

Exactly, exactly. Um, so I guess to bring it back to, to bring it back. Um, so segue, I have, I have a very interesting question for you and feel free to be like, I have no clue what you’re talking about. Sure. So I’m always trying to figure out ways again for my clients on how they can, at the core of it, just make the most of that money.

Right? Like how can you, they generate it as much sales as they possibly care. Right. Mm-hmm now, um, in terms of figuring that out, like it’s, it’s relatively simple, you got marketing, outbound, inbound, offline, you know, that sort of stuff online sort of thing. Right. But I wanted to see if you had a, a different perspective on this.

So you’re picking up waste from these different retailers. Mm-hmm I would assume that the retailers that have the more waste are making more sales, which would probably make sense right now, are you seeing any differences between the retailers that have the most amount of waste and have less waste in seeing what they’re doing differently? I mean, I know you’re just picking up their waste if that’s about it.

But I was wondering if you had any insight on that, because this is something like analyzing, uh, uh, retailer success by their waste just random. But I was just wondering if this makes any sense at all and if you have any insight on that, it does make total sense. Um, there’s that expression right? Where it says, show me how you do one thing.

I’ll tell you how you do everything else. Right. So it’s kind of like, you know, how they handle, how they treat my drivers, how they handle their protocols. Right. And making sure that there’s a manager on site to allow them to come through all of that does matter. And I can connect some of the dots, obviously.

I won’t know for sure. I don’t know their books. Right. Yeah, of course. Yeah. But there are some companies that I definitely recognize that, um, these guys are, uh, community knows them. They’re well known brands. And at the same time, when I see their process, it’s never a problem. Whether it’s my driver being there and they giving access to it, whether it’s, um, you know, whether they have any questions about compliance or manifesting, usually don’t hear peep from them, whether it’s about making payments, they’re usually on time.

Right. Those things do kind of paint a picture for how they run their business. Right. Um, and then, you know, knowing their brand name and knowing that a lot of people know them, I connect the dots. Yeah. Yeah. And are you finding that a lot of the more successful ones, like successes are relative, right.

Um, a lot of the more successful ones, I E the ones that have most amount of waste are the ones with multiple retail locations, or that is common. Are you finding that it is so the one with more retail locations typically at more ways? Yeah. If, if they have, if it’s common, not all, you know, but it is common that the ones that do have a few more than one location typically run a little more smooth.

Right. Um, as far as I can see at least, right. Um, they usually don’t have the same level of issues that the smaller ones do. And I think that’s kind of makes sense. Yeah. You know, they, they have bigger teams, they have, they’ve been able to hire the right people for the right jobs. So it does make sense. Um, but I’m definitely seeing that.

Yeah. But also on the flip side, right. You know, my thing is that every person in the hierarchy of employees and employer kind of thing, if you wanna put it that way, owner, founder, CEO, then you have general manager manager, then your bud tenderers kind of thing, um, that at each level, your kind of core vision of what you think is best for the business kind of gets diluted further down the train, the, the, the, yeah.

The trains. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, just like a broken telephone, right? Like you say one thing, and by the time it gets the seventh, person’s kind of diluted. Right. So on the flip side of that, are you finding most of these retailers are better well run or less well run by having more people. Hmm. And again, like I said, like, I know you’re not like looking for this, but it’s just curious, I wouldn’t know this from anyone.

Oh yeah, no, no. I get those OBS. I, I try and pick up those kind of observations as much as I can. Right. Um, I think it’s important for my business and for my position and my business. Um, I would say it’s 50 50. Okay. Um, because you’ll have teams that are just lost, like, you know, chickens with their heads cut off what’s going on.

Yeah. It’s like, I gotta talk to corporate. I gotta talk to people on site. I gotta do this. I gotta do that. And they just don’t really have a, a real good communication together. And then you’ll have these other organizations that these groups that are just smooth, completely smooth. And they run really well.

They’re even, you know, the smaller ones are like the single licensee, um, operators that just run really good businesses. Right. And they’re always on top of it, their, their teams are on top of it. Um, so I would say it’s definitely 50 50 for your specifically for your question. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Cause this is interesting. Like I have, I’m hypothe, I hypothesize hypothesize about these things all the time, but you know, I wouldn’t really get any insights unless I know somebody that’s like, Hey, actually interacting with the day to day operations of what’s going on. Um, I had another kind of thing that I’m thinking is that like, are the, are you finding and again, um, uh, are you finding that? So you mentioned it before was like, Hey, I have to go talk to corporate.

I have to go talk to this person so I can get approval to do this. Sounds like autonomy is sort of like an issue or the person is not necessarily scared, but they’re hesitant to make any mistakes because they wanna get proper approval. So based on what I, I find you telling me, like, are, I guess there’s a fine balance between autonomy and then getting approval from the higher reps in terms of micromanaging.

Right. So are you finding the more autonomous people are kind of better to work with than the ones that have to get approval all the time? Yeah, well, yeah, absolutely. I think that’s, that’s kind of applies to all business, right? Yeah. Like, um, definitely if, if they’re managerial staff or at least certain level of staff authority, um, can confidently make decisions, not life, you know, big major decisions.

Of course, of course, if you, you still need to have a, you know, executive or C-suite level person sign off on the contract. Sure. You know, that, that makes total sense. Right. I, I, it’s just how they handle it is what matters. Uh, they are definitely, uh, easier to work with. Uh, there is a clear understanding of what each party wants from each other and how we can figure out to communicate that.

Right. Um, and then they also know that, you know, Hey, I’m responsible for this. I have to be sure to pass on the information, not only to people above me, but to be below me. Um, so I definitely do do believe that there is, it is more efficient or at least the experience I’ve had, um, with those kind of companies are more efficient.

Um, and it’s also, I think what we attract, um, you know, with my brand, like, I, I, I, I try and tend to, uh, keep my brand, uh, oriented towards these kind of companies that are running a little more smoothly. Uh, not, not because I want to, you know, obviously say no to any business. I won’t say no to business, but, um, it just makes, if I can make my employees happy, it also makes them happy.

I’m also considering those factors. So I think that we attract a lot of those kind of companies that are already running smoothly. And if the ones that don’t run smoothly typically will get filtered out. Yeah. Naturally that makes, that makes, that makes sense of sense. Well, look, I, you know, I appreciate, you know, everything that you’ve got through so far, I’m sure walking through that whole, uh, uh, disposal process, you’ve done it a million times.

So again, I appreciate you telling me all these different things. Um, I mean, we’re at the tail end, you know, of the, of, of the, of the call. I mean, like I said, I, I have time to talk if you have anything more that you wanna add. Um, but typically I end off with the, the last question is like, if you have any kind of golden nuggets for any retailers or anyone else in the cannabis space and the golden nuggets is defined as, as whatever you think would be super valuable for them.

So it could be on the marketing side, the sales side, but it can also be like, Hey, do this for a better disposal, you know, that sort of thing. So, um, if any, you have any, uh, golden nuggets of wisdom. Yeah. I mean, I think just the last kind of, uh, portion of our conversation about the communication. That’s what I would say is probably what I would suggest.

Right. Um, I, I mean, I’m big on communication. Uh, I, I do, you know, very, I do that with my team or make sure that everyone can talk together. Everyone, you know, knows where, um, their roles are, what their responsibilities are and everything where the borders are, all of that. Um, and one thing I would definitely recommend for all licensees is to get a better develop, a better communication system between your staff.

Right. You know, your people should be on, on page with one another. Um, because, uh, I think a lot of licensees legacy licensees are, um, operating in the sense where it’s still like a black market, right. They’re still kind of like, gotta make this hustle. I gotta make this sale, but it’s like, this is a business now, you know, you gotta treat it like a business.

Yes. Um, so I would cap, I would summarize it by saying, treat your business like a business. Right, right, right. And lastly, where can people find you? Or, you know, where can people find eco waste? Um, if they wanna get in touch we’re everywhere. LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, uh, our website, uh, I would say LinkedIn is probably the best way to reach me directly Instagram if you wanna contact the, the company page.

Uh, and, uh, if anyone has any questions about it, I’m, I’m always open. We’re very, we’re an open textbook, open book. um, it could be a textbook too. Not, it could be a textbook. Yeah. Um, I mean, not many people like textbooks, but like, you can, that’s why I was like, you know what lemme say, book, correct myself there.

Yeah. Don’t wanna give bad memories to anybody. Right. Um, but yeah, you know, we’re an open book, so we’re, we’re happy to help and advise. Nice. And it’s, uh, are all of your handles, so your website’s eco waste services.com. Yes. Uh, are all of your handles eco waste services or just eco waste? We’re at real eco waste at real eco waste.

So if anybody has any, uh, waste questions or if they wanna find a company, a Southern California soon to be Northern California, also going to be Arizona and Nevada, I hope I got those. Correct. hopefully everywhere. Hopefully, hopefully that’s the plan. Awesome. Um, and then if you need any marketing help in your retailer or any other cannabis brand, you know, to find me @ cannabudmarketing.com and you can go ahead, schedule a free audit, more than happy to help with any questions you have, but that was it for the dispensary marketing podcast.

And I’ll see you guys on the next episode. Thanks. Bye.

Article By

Brandon Quan

About The Author: A digital marketer with over 7 years of experience, Brandon Quan is wildly known as the top marketing expert within the Cannabis Industry.

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