The introduction of branded packaging was a watershed moment in cannabis’s evolution from illegal drug to legitimate consumer-packaged-goods category. Branded packaging allowed producers, manufacturers, and cultivators to differentiate their increasingly diverse products using colorful jars, tubes, and bags designed to stand out on dispensary shelves. The new wrappings played an outsized role in making the plant approachable for millions of new consumers.
But as the planet continues to warm at an unprecedented rate and single-use plastics fill oceans and beaches, packaging across all industries has begun to play an outsized role in environmental sustainability. Studies show awareness of the issue impacts buying decisions for a significant majority of consumers. A survey from IBM and the National Retail Foundation found 70 percent of North American consumers think it’s important brands be sustainable or eco-friendly.
RXDco (formerly RX Depot) quietly adapted to the consumer trend by developing a new line of sustainable but affordable custom packaging solutions for the cannabis industry. With the new ATID product line, RXDco has created what the company believes to be the world’s first certified-child-resistant compostable paper can packaging line. The products transformed the suit of options for brands that want to improve the sustainability of their business.
RXDco has adapted to changing demands placed on packaging since its founding in 1914.
“We’re talking about the earliest days of packaging,” said Chief Executive Officer Moshe Zussman. “We are truly a packaging provider at our core and draw on more than 100 years of history when providing this service to our partners.”
Experience in multiple markets
Over the years, the company has created packaging for food, general retail, and industrial businesses, but since the dominos started falling on recreational cannabis legislation in 2016, RXDco has focused on the cannabis industry as its key sector.
“We came to cannabis because we have the best packaging solutions for these specific needs and have done for many years,” said Zussman. “Starting in Colorado gave us a significant first-mover advantage, as the state really set the standard for product variation and offering.”
Despite early success, RXDco didn’t become complacent or fall behind the trends. Zussman and his team heard consumers crying out for sustainable packaging and tasked the in-house research-and-development group with creating a unique line of flower, edibles, and pre-roll tubes made from fully recycled materials that don’t negatively affect the quality of the product.
The ATID line is the culmination of that effort and cements the company’s reputation as a leading provider of sustainable, affordable solutions. “Our team spent years developing the ATID packaging, and we’re very proud to deliver something that’s functional, practical, certified, beautiful, and cost effective,” Zussman said.
His team invested countless hours and significant resources engineering the sophisticated, patent-protected system and aims to be “the go-to supplier that truly embodies the values of eco-friendly and sustainable packaging for cannabis and pharmaceutical industries,” he said.
While sustainability is unquestionably important, Zussman’s team never loses sight of the fact their products must keep contents fresh. Among the company’s flagship cannabis clients is a major multistate operator that sought RXDco’s help with an airflow issue in its existing flower packaging.
“They were using a rigid plastic container but were receiving complaints about the bud drying out inside their packaging,” Zussman said. “Their demands were the packaging had to be premium, customizable, and sustainable, and they wanted a guarantee that we could stop the air variance problem.”
The RXDco team went to work engineering a custom solution and submitted the result for a third-party air barrier test, something Zussman insists goes above and beyond competitors’ standards. The test results allowed RXDco to claim its packaging represents one of the best air-barrier systems in the compliant packaging space. The project earned a lucrative bit of business from one of the industry’s giants.
As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, clients have come to view RXDco as an essential partner thanks to the company’s and Zussman’s heritage in the packaging industry. “We worked really hard early on to understand the unique challenges cannabis brands face coming to market,” Zussman said. “RXDco has helped a lot of its customers navigate the growing pains of nascent markets, and we’ve been able to guide our customers and help them ride the inevitable fluctuations that come with it.”
Next year will see the company move a significant portion of its manufacturing to the United States. Zussman views the change as vital after the pandemic revealed the fragility of global supply chains.
“We firmly believe having a U.S. supply chain is necessary and critical. We’re seeing that in the bottom line and in operations,” he said. “Companies that cannot adapt and integrate U.S. manufacturing run the risk of confronting unexpected challenges.”
Wrestling with this reality while addressing the surging demand for sustainability at an affordable price will be the defining challenge of cannabis packaging manufacturers for the foreseeable future. As Zussman sees it, RXDco is uniquely positioned to meet this moment.
“From cannabis growers to retailers and everyone in-between, the necessity of a strong ancillary supply can be the difference between success and failure,” he said. “From our unique product offering, prestigious history, and strong supply chain, we don’t just sell products; we provide solutions and build relationships. Our unique market position allows us to offer the eve- changing global cannabis market stability and trust.”