Marijuana company Hexo achieves carbon-neutral goal

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(A version of this story first appeared at Hemp Industry Daily.)

Canadian cannabis producer Hexo Corp. has reached its target to become carbon neutral within three months, the company announced.

The publicly traded, Ottawa, Ontario-based company spent at least $784,000 (999,647 Canadian dollars) to meet its goal to become carbon neutral by September.

Hexo purchased carbon offset credits from Offsetters, a Vancouver sustainability and carbon-management provider.

To date, the company says it has offset nearly 26,000 metric tons of carbon (28,660 tons in the U.S.), including 19,610 metric tons in operational emissions and 6,355 metric tons of carbon generated by its 12,000 employees.

By next month, Hexo estimates it will have purchased credits to offset 71,000 kilograms (156,528 pounds) of plastic, which equates to more than 3.5 million plastic bottles.

The company estimates a per-employee cost of CA$1,000 to offset its employees’ emissions; however, it did not disclose how much it cost to offset operational emissions or plastic.

“I’m tremendously excited by it,” Sebastien St. Louis, co-founder and CEO of Hexo, told Hemp Industry Daily.

“I hope that other companies see this as a bit of a challenge and a bit of a wake-up call, and I hope we get others following suit. But I’m extremely proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish at Hexo.”

The company has also closed its acquisitions of Ontario-based cannabis producers Redecan and 48North, for a combined $450 million, and has plans to carry its carbon neutrality targets into both of those businesses and into its U.S. businesses, according to a company statement.

Primarily a marijuana company that is expanding into hemp, Hexo launched a line of hemp-derived CBD beverages in Colorado earlier this year through Truss Beverages, a joint venture with Molson Coors.

“Now we’re carbon neutral, but … I’m also concentrated on actually continuing to make our footprint smaller, so as Hexo gets bigger, we have an ability to make more impact,” St. Louis said.

“We’re looking at green energy sources, like, obviously in Quebec we use hydroelectric power mostly, but now, in Ontario, we’re … starting to look at renewable sources of power for our next expansion. So how can that contribute to making us have a smaller footprint, even than we have today, while we continue to offset.”

St. Louis said the time is now to act on the planet’s climate crisis, and he’s hoping to use his platform to influence other companies in the cannabis space and beyond to join in the effort.

“I personally feel that not enough is being done on a global scale or anywhere to fix this problem, and it’s time for us to wake up as a society,” St. Louis said.

Political infighting, he said, is causing delays, and while individuals can make small impacts, it’s going to take commitment by corporations to make a difference.

“What I hope will happen is that we get other corporations in the cannabis space,” St. Louis said.

Hexo Corp.trades on the Nasdaq as HEXO and Toronto Stock Exchange as HEXO.

Laura Drotleff can be reached at laura.drotleff@hempindustrydaily.com