Twenty years ago, Jesse Levin’s father, Marc Levin, launched NCM Dust and Odor Control to assist companies with treating odors and dust at landfills, transfer stations, compost facilities, and remediation projects. For the past thirteen years, Jesse, 37, has run the company, which employs ten people spread across the country. Recently, he noticed the parallels between what NCM does for waste-management companies and what the fledgling cannabis industry needs. So, he launched NCM Environmental Solutions.
“I couldn’t have imagined a decade ago I’d be working in the cannabis industry,” he said. “But in terms of odor control, the parallels between the two industries are very similar.”
Pennsylvania-based NCM’s decades of experience working with regulatory agencies and cities gives the company unique insight about what may lie ahead. “Odor control is really the public’s only opportunity to fight a cannabis operation,” said Levin.
NCM Environmental Solutions duplicates the parent company’s operation with a specific focus on the cannabis industry. The goal is to ensure the industry becomes proactive, not reactive, about odor control. In pursuit of the goal, Levin created three subdivisions.
The Environmental Impact division focuses on air-model studies. The studies range from EPA-approved models like CALPUFF to a new technology called computational fluid dynamics. The division works with regulatory agencies to draft requirements and then makes sure they execute a solid odor control plan.
“If companies from the permitting phase are required to properly identify their impact on the community in regard to odors and then execute the plan once they are in operation, it helps the cannabis industry as a whole and avoids operations from being fined…and worse,” Levin said.
“We’ve developed a line of neutralizers that have been tested using EPA guidelines for toxicity inhalation, eye irritation, consumption, and skin touch. These studies cost us over six-figures, but it was the best decision we have made from a product-development standpoint.” —Jesse Levin, Founder, NCM Environmental Solutions.
The Odor Control Solutions division identifies the origin of odors and determines why the odors exist in the facility. Currently, regulatory agencies seem focused on ensuring odors do not leave the perimeter of a property. “Once we understand our clients’ operations, we research a few things locally to understand the best course of action,” said Levin.
Throughout North America, two systems are widely used to treat waste odors: the high-pressure atomizing system, which is a water-based misting system, and the vapor odor control system, which is 100-percent waterless and combines air movement with a specifically formulated odor neutralizer. Both translate well to cannabis, Levin said.
The third division, Service, offers preventative maintenance and on-site visits to monitor odor control systems.
An NCM cannabis client operating in California’s Central Valley has raised the bar in terms of odor control. In fact, the company invited the mayor to visit the operation so he could see how the system works. “A school was very nearby, but [the cannabis company has] gone through multiple harvests without one complaint,” said Levin. “More importantly, no fines or notices of violations.”
The mayor now is using the site as a standard for the area.Levin said treating cannabis odors is very similar to treating odors in the waste industry. For example, in both realms NCM must identify the odor’s origin point, understand the client’s operation, develop an odor-control plan through neutralizers and dispersion systems, and then aid in maintaining the equipment.
Levin said treating cannabis odors is very similar to treating odors in the waste industry. For example, in both realms NCM must identify the odor’s origin point, understand the client’s operation, develop an odor-control plan through neutralizers and dispersion systems, and then aid in maintaining the equipment.
“Odor Control needs to be viewed as part of the operation and factored into the daily operating expenses associated with cannabis operations that need odor control,” said Levin
“A good plan is important but the execution of the odor control plan is of the utmost importance. Once all that is in place, we have been very successful in both industries.”
Why Odor Control is Good for Your Bottom Line—and Community
Harvesting, trimming, cooking with cannabis, and using extraction equipment all give rise to smells. Generally, a site has two options for controlling odors: Wait until neighbors and/or the city complain or address the issue right away. In either case, neighbors will want assurances the problem will disappear. Once a company begins treating odors, neighbors want to know how the process may affect them. Each site that gets hit with an odor violation not only gives the industry a black eye, but also can lead to monumental fines, loss of permits, and even forced closure.
“This led me to develop a line of neutralizers that have been tested using EPA guidelines for toxicity inhalation, eye irritation, consumption, and skin touch,” said Levin. “These studies cost us over six-figures, but it was the best decision we have made from a product-development standpoint.”