With the Commonwealth Government’s policy targeting net zero emissions by 2050, the pressure is on Australian business to adjust and adapt to survive. Companies which are open to positive change and innovation with a focus on a circular economy will do more than survive, they will thrive — together with stakeholders and communities. Australian agritech business Cannatrek, is part of this progress, not only leading the way in the field of seed to patient medicinal cannabis, but is also committed to sustainability and ethical investment.
From growers to product manufacturers, all harmful aspects of the medicinal cannabis industry need to be transformed, including soil degradation, waste disposal, energy costs, and packaging. Committed to this long-term approach, Cannatrek — founded in 2015 — is a relative newcomer to the medical cannabis landscape so is able to adapt and pivot without the big turning circle of other less nimble operations.
And because medical cannabis is underpinned by an equal dose of innovation and nature, Cannatrek is in a strong position to further transform the industry.
Having received Major Project Status by the Australian Government, Cannatrek’s Shepparton project in rural Victoria is slated to be among the world’s largest medical cannabis facilities, producing 160 tonnes of medicinal cannabis a year when operating at full production. Besides being a major employment and export booster – providing 400 jobs for the area and beyond — Cannatrek’s Shepparton operation is a living, breathing example of a circular economy in motion.
Reduce, repair and recycle
While its core business is providing affordable plant-based therapies to enhance quality of life for thousands of patients in Australia and globally, Cannatrek operates through a lens of sustainability.
In terms of energy requirements, the 178-acre Shepparton operation will include 160,000m2 growing area, under an expansive high-technology glasshouse, relying on a mix of clean solar energy and future energy hydrogen. This means that pollutants like diesel are stored as a back-up only.
Access to rain water and clean water was another key reason in choosing the Goulburn Valley — the fruit capital of Australia — as a prime location for agricultural production. Because aside from the ‘how’ and ‘what’ is produced, ‘where’ is another factor to consider in the sustainability paradigm. And location also impacts on transport considerations and soil use.
Besides reducing reliance on pollutants, a circular economy also includes recycling. Cannatrek’s Shepparton facility recycles side-products and waste to produce plant-based packaging — trailblazing the way compared to other pharmaceutical companies heavily reliant on single use plastics. While plant-based alternatives to plastic is the future path, hemp-cellulose plastic and the many innovative uses of the cannabis plant are decades and centuries old. From pottery to rope to paper to clothing to Henry Ford’s hemp fibre prototype car, the history of hemp and its wide range of uses points towards many open-ended and exciting opportunities ahead.
Sustainability and the road ahead for Australia and beyond
Together with world leaders, the Australian Government is committed to net zero emissions by 2050, cemented at the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow – COP26. This 2050 commitment includes international trade agreements, emission policies, costs and penalties.
At a national level, the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to sustainability is not legislated for companies and consumers. But the Commonwealth is driving emission reductions together with business and consumers largely through technology development with a commitment of a $20 billion investment in sustainability. Australian companies like Cannatrek are part of the solution in leading the way on sustainability by embracing innovation, nature and community.
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