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Cannabis company donates waste product to support community project

MedCan is conscious of the impact it can have on the environment as an indoor cannabis cultivator. As a result, the company is taking a number of steps to ensure that the business “closed circles” and contributed positively to the environment and its local community.

To do this, Johannesburg-based MedCan is donating its waste coco coir to a community garden to improve its vegetable crops.

MedCan is one of the only GMP-certified and fully licensed indoor cannabis cultivation facilities in South Africa, growing, drying, trimming and packaging cannabis flower for the medicinal cannabis market.

Read more: How the carbon capture of hemp can help reduce emissions

The fully operational company cultivates high THC flower – called Isando – for customers around the world. MedCan says the flowers have a rich terpene profile, which gives them an intense aroma of citrus and tropical fruits, meet the highest standards for heavy metals, pesticides and bioburden levels and have a cannabinoid profile sought after by medical cannabis patients.

Micaël Zollmann, founder and CEO of MedCan, emphasises the project is hugely beneficial for both the environment and the local community by increasing jobs and creating food security.

Cannabis company donates waste product to support community project
Image provided by MedCan.

Zollmann commented: “At MedCan, our plants are grown in an inert based media. Coco contains little to no dissolved solutes or mineral salts and as such, our cultivators have complete control over the nutrients delivered to the root zone. 

“We at MedCan have opted for “the best of both worlds” with our use of a coco coir-based media that is fortified with an array of organic amendments. 

“Our media provides a highly hospitable environment for a diverse microbiome rich in beneficial microorganisms that aid in the overall health and well-being of our plants but more importantly, allows us to produce high-quality cannabis indoors as if it was growing naturally the way mother nature intended.”

MedCan says it spent a lot of time searching for an organisation or person that could re-use the medium. MedCan was introduced to eco-therapist, Scotch, who runs a community garden in Katlehong. 

Cannabis company donates waste product to support community project
Image provided by MedCan.

MedCan now donates the used medium to Scotch after every harvest, packing the coco coir into 1 tonne bags.

By repurposing the medium in community gardens, carbon stays locked up in the “new” soil and doesn’t ferment, break down or oxidize in the same way as it would in a landfill.

MedCan says that it recognises that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to improve the effect it has on the environment, but this is one small step that is having a positive impact environmentally and socio-economically.

“Since coco coir is already a waste product and the global production of coconut products tends to have negative impacts on the environment, it is integral that these carbon-rich compounds don’t end up decomposing in landfills further adding to the heavy carbon load commercial cannabis production places on planet earth as is,” said Zollmann.

“Relying on “dirty” energy is something we want to change in the future and would like to transition to renewables such as solar eventually. However, this takes time and can be very expensive.”

Zollmann continued: “The media we donate to Scotch and his community garden is beneficial to his cultivation practices as they are able to amend their native soils with coco coir and perlite – perlite from our media mix – thereby further increasing their native soils cationic exchange capacity (CEC) adding carbon-rich compounds in the coco to their soil and further increase water retention, drainage and aeration of their soils to maximise the production of their food crops.”

As well as benefits to the environment, Zollmann emphasises that the company’s donation of the medium to Scotch has allowed him to grow bigger, better vegetables to sell.

And it is not only food production that the donation is helping to improve. Through the donations, Scotch is able to recruit more people to train as well as send his “best pupils” to MedCan for employment.

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