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LA-based startup Sana Packaging quickly expands from hemp-based marijuana packaging to ocean-based plastic—and business is smoking hot.

Rick Lingle, Senior Technical Editor

November 26, 2019

5 Min Read
High demand for cannabis packaging made from ocean plastics

Sana Packaging (Los Angeles), a specialty start-up company that provides packaging for cannabis brands, officially opened for business in February 2019 as a supplier of packaging made from 100% plant-based hemp plastic. That was only after completing a successful test of 20 pilot customers starting in July 2018.

Just days later in March it launched a line of packaging made from ocean plastics, done in partnership with Oceanworks (Marina Del Rey, CA), which operates with collection and processing agents around the world. 

Those first ocean-plastic-derived products were Sana Ocean Tubes in 110mm and 78mm sizes. “The Sana Ocean Tube 110 is child-resistant packaging for prerolls and vaporizers while the Sana Ocean Tube 78 is child-resistant packaging for mini prerolls and vaporizer cartridges,” James Eichner, the company’s co-founder and CSO, tells PlasticsToday.

At that time, Ron Basak-Smith, co-founder and CEO of Sana Packaging, said “we're excited to see how much plastic waste we can continue to remove from our oceans moving forward.”

Its next market entry didn’t take long, either, as the fast-moving company launched a second line of cannabis packaging made from reclaimed ocean plastic this month, Sana Ocean Screw-Top lids.  Designed for use with glass jars, the child-resistant lids also molded from 100% reclaimed ocean plastic materials provided by Oceanworks are now available in a variety of colors and sizes.

"The Sana Ocean Screw-Tops are first-of-a-kind products, we can't wait to see the impact they have on the market," said Basak-Smith. "Our pricing is increasingly competitive, and the Sana Ocean Screw-Tops can replace any 53-400 closures currently being used in the market."

PlasticsToday interviewed Eichner for further details and insights.

How  and why did the company get into ocean plastics?

Eichner: We choose to see ocean plastic as a readily available and abundant stranded resource. By finding end markets for reclaimed ocean plastic—such as cannabis packaging—we're cSana20Packaging20PQ201A_0.jpgreating a financial incentive to clean our oceans, which is great! Our goal is to remove plastic from the ocean, reintroduce it to the marketplace and subsequently to the proper waste stream. 

We were initially put in touch with the folks at Oceanworks by a mutual colleague of ours. And given the strong value overlap between our respective companies, we immediately hit it off!

How much interest are you seeing in these products?

Eichner: The demand has been through the roof since day one in February! We generate more than 50 organic leads per week and are currently working with more than 175 customers, primarily in North America—to date we've sold more than 1.8 million units of packaging. 

Some of our more notable customers using our reclaimed ocean plastic products include Ocean Cannabis Co., Verde Natural, Sonoma Pacific Distribution and Humboldt Marijuana Co.

With the help of our customers, we've already removed more than 16 tons (32,000 pounds) of plastic waste from our oceans and used more than 14 tons (28,000 pounds) of plant-based hemp plastic.

Details, claims and what's next

Sana20Packaging20Cannabis20Jar20Lid20PT_0.jpgHow would you compare these two efforts?

Eichner: Designing and developing the Sana Ocean Tubes were more complicated than for the Sana Ocean Screw-Top for a number of reasons including that they were some of our first products and we were just getting off the ground as a revenue-positive company, etc.

For the lids, we partnered with Omega Packaging (La Mirada, CA), and their team has been absolutely incredible to work with. Their team is also a big part of why designing and developing the Sana Ocean Screw-Top was a smoother process than the Sana Ocean Tubes. 

From the beginning, we knew we would develop a number of reclaimed ocean plastic products.

Please provide more details on the Oceanworks materials.

Eichner: Oceanworks sources and supplies a variety of reclaimed ocean plastics. The material we're currently working with is 100% high-density polyethylene, which is a #2 recyclable polymer.

We're also not just limited to HDPE as we can source a variety of material types from Oceanworks—I expect us to begin exploring other types of reclaimed ocean plastic soon. With each material we use, we want to find as many use cases as possible.Sana20Packaging20James20Eichner_0.jpg

[Ed Note: Oceanworks also supplies recovered ocean polymers made from PET and polypropylene.]

What’s the price premium of your products vs. standard packaging?

Eichner: To date, most of our products have been two to three times the cost of their conventional counterparts or a 200%-300% premium. However, we're becoming much more price competitive as we grow and as a result the Sana Ocean Screw-Tops is extremely price competitive with its conventional counterparts. 

What kind of messaging and claims can and are your customers making?  

Eichner: Many of our customers refer to working with us as a "partnership" with Sana Packaging, which we think speaks volumes to the level of engagement and commitment we have with our customers. Many of our customers also use our packaging as part of theirSana20Packaging20PQ2_0.jpg marketing efforts and brand story. Ocean Cannabis Co. is a great example of such a company. 

One of our goals is providing our customers with the proper tools and language to message our packaging - i.e., what types of materials do we use, where the materials come from, how to properly dispose of them, etc.

What’s next?

Eichner: One of our specialties is tapping into emerging material supply chains and finding appropriate use cases for those materials in the cannabis packaging space. Ultimately, we need to address the five primary material types used for cannabis packaging: rigid plastics, flexible plastic, glass, metal, and paperboard. 

Thus far we've been working primarily with 100% plant-based hemp plastic and 100% reclaimed ocean plastic, both of which are rigid plastics. We recently started working with glass and we're in R&D and product development for paperboard products and flexible plastic products. 

Images: Sana Packaging

About the Author(s)

Rick Lingle

Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday

Rick Lingle is Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree from Clarke College and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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