Taranaki-based Greenfern Industries has been certified New Zealand’s first carbon zero medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp company.

Greenfern analysed all aspects of its organisational carbon footprint and developed a reduction plan which was independently audited by environmental certification provider Toitū Envirocare.

Managing director Dan Casey said: “We’re incredibly proud of this certification as it speaks to our core value – to be New Zealand’s most environmentally friendly medicinal cannabis company.”

Greenfern MD Dan Casey: wrong to introduce conventional cannabis production systems to New Zealand

“The medicinal cannabis industry has quite a large environmental and carbon footprint due to high energy inputs. We want to be a world-leading example of sustainability in the industry and help set the standard for environmentally friendly cannabis and hemp production.”

A large focus for Greenfern has been the work it has done on the hydroelectric power station it owns on the Waingongoro River in Taranaki. The company was recently given the go-ahead by Taranaki Regional Council to start generating power again.

The power station sits alongside Greenfern’s research facility, indoor growing operation and processing facility.

Casey said: “The highest overhead in a medicinal cannabis indoor growing operation is power. While having access to cost-price power is a game changer for us in terms of how competitive it will make the price of our products, being able to grow our plants in a more environmentally friendly way is just as important.

Casey said Greenfern had introduced a number of sustainability measures including the way in which it processes its hemp as efficiently as possible.

“Our hemp is harvested for its seed which is then processed and sold for use as a high-protein meat substitute. The by-products from the seed processing are also used in other products such as our hemp-based body care range and hemp-based beer.”

Greenfern is also setting up a high-tech aeroponic grow room which will use less water and electricity and fewer nutrients compared to conventional hydroponic cannabis grow rooms.

Casey added: “With the medicinal cannabis industry having such a large environmental footprint globally, it seems wrong to introduce conventional cannabis production systems to New Zealand. We believe we have a responsibility to set an example in sustainable and carbon-neutral cannabis production for this budding new industry.

“We’ve built our business model from the ground up with sustainability in mind, with a focus on reducing water usage, reducing waste of all kinds and reducing our carbon footprint.”