By Marta Mora, Environmental Officer, Linneo Health
Despite its relatively young age, the cannabis industry, particularly those involved in the cultivation of cannabis, is already searching for ways to improve sustainability practices and reduce waste.
At Linneo Health we prioritise our green policies and practices which promote sustainability in how we utilise our resources. Here we explain some of the steps we’re taking to minimise our impact on the environment.
Cannabis is a high-use water plant, so indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation is naturally water intensive. At Linneo we operate hydroponic systems in our greenhouses which use a nutrient-water solution and an organic growing medium (cocopeat) rather than nutrient-rich soil. This precision irrigation means we supply exactly the right quantities of water and nutrients to the roots of each of our plants, ensuring we are only using the resources we need.
While commercial crop growing around the world relies heavily on artificial pesticides to protect crops from pests and increase yields, the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use is quite different. No chemicals or pesticides can be used, according to stringent regulations to ensure the quality and purity of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis. To maintain a high plant yield, we take advantage of natural enemies of the cannabis plant’s insect pests. By encouraging natural predators that are specific to cannabis plants’ pests, we create the optimum natural biological balance in our greenhouses, enabling our plants to thrive.
With energy use one of the biggest environmental challenges of the cannabis industry, particularly when plants are grown indoors, at Linneo we’re taking advantage of our geography to minimise the use of energy for heating or extending DLI (daily light integral). Murcia is one of the warmest and sunniest regions of Europe with an average daily high temperature of 24 degrees centigrade, reducing the need for artificial heating in our greenhouses. We also use automated systems to trap the heat from the sun when we need it, and to shade our plants when the sun is at its highest. This is a far cry from cannabis cultivation in North America where greenhouses must be heated all year round.
A natural consequence of our industry is the inevitable organic waste material that comes from cannabis cultivation. While this material presents an environmental challenge for the industry, requiring careful disposal, in compliance with strict environmental regulations, at Linneo this leftover green is gold. We have teamed up with a local waste management company, which takes our waste material to create biogas – an alternative, renewable energy source.
Personally, I am very proud of the commitments Linneo has made to minimise the impact of its operations on the environment. As all of us are increasingly, in our home lives, becoming more environmentally conscious, it is hugely rewarding to work for a company that places such importance on its responsibilities to the planet – and challenges the status quo, knowing there is more that came be done. Linneo has plans to go further. These will include the introduction of photovoltaic solar panels – an obvious option, given our geography – to power our facilities. We’re also investing heavily in our local energy infrastructure, including the power grid, which will replace our use of on-site generators.
We are working on a Study of Carbon Footprint to obtain a deeper knowledge regarding our emission levels, which will allow us to reduce our impact on the environment and to improve Linneo’s performance by implementing green work policies.
Medicinal cannabis is making a significant contribution to the lives of patients in need around the world. It is our responsibility, while delivering such a positive social impact, to optimize our environmental impact and improve the industry’s sustainability. We will continue to be bold and to deliver on our commitments. There is more to come!