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Is Modified Atmosphere Packaging Right for you Cannabis Packaging Line?

by Barbara Fox 14 Feb 2024

You might have heard a lot about the use of Modified Atmosphere Packaging in the world of cannabis production. If you run a marijuana-based business then MAP might be something to consider as a way to help you to control your products better and prevent spoilage.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging Definition

Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is a way to pack food or other products. You use packaging materials and formats that have a barrier, meaning that gas finds it very difficult to get in and out of the packaging. This means you can preserve the atmosphere inside and ensure that oxygen or other gas doesn’t get to it. It gives you more control.

Who is using 'MAP' Packaging?

MAP packaging can be helpful for a lot of different industries, but food is the main industry to fully embrace it. Fresh fruit and veg can be packaged in MAP packaging, as you can suck the oxygen out and this can stop food from rotting anywhere nearly as quickly as it would. Food can be sent further and last longer.

MAP packaging can also be used in the cannabis industry. Once cannabis is harvested, you don’t want it to mix with oxygen much. It can turn the THC to CBN which makes it a lot less potent. The best cannabis packaging businesses are able to control their packaging to stop this.

Types of modified atmosphere packaging

Gas flushing is one of the most popular MAP packaging techniques. It displaces oxygen which stops oxidization and rotting. It can also prevent organisms such as bacteria from growing, and it can fill the package to keep it stable and conforming. One-way valves are another way to control the atmosphere and take most of the gas out altogether. You can suck the air out from the outer packaging.

Modified atmosphere packaging materials

A lot of the materials used are chosen because they are not permeable. Liquid and oxygen don’t tend to get in very easily. Some of the most common materials include low-density polyethylene (LDPE), PVC, or polypropylene (PP). There are also some new forms of packaging coming out like “smart” films. These can even show you if the temperature is too high or low. This probably isn’t needed for cannabis.

How does modified atmosphere packaging protect cannabis products?

What can MAP packaging do for your cannabis products? Is it worth it for dispensaries or other cannabis businesses? There are a lot of reasons why cannabis companies and food companies are embracing MAP. Cannabis needs oxygen when you are growing it. When it is time to store, too much oxygen is one of many things to control, along with the amount of light that is getting to the cannabis, and the heat and humidity.

Too little air can actually mean that the humidity increases, especially if your cannabis hasn’t been dried out 100% before it is stored in the packaging. Too much air and the cannabinoids react to the oxygen and the THC is no longer as potent. You can see how it is a bit of a tightrope. Actually, cannabis is quite tolerant as long as you don’t store it in extreme conditions. The removal of oxygen is a good idea to keep the product as potent and high-quality, especially if you are going to store it over the long term, or if it has a long journey ahead.

How does modified atmosphere packaging enhance the safety of shelf-life of products?

MAP packaging means that you can control what is inside the packaging. You can ensure there is less oxygen, which makes products rot more quickly. Oxygen is not bad in itself, but it does cause some chemical reactions that are not ideal, especially for cannabis.

Some bacteria and other organisms also need oxygen to grow, so removing this, and other gasses, can be a way to prevent problems with the product inside. If moisture gets in, similar problems can occur, such as mold. This is why cans have been so effective for food packaging over the year.

Gas Analyzers

How map gas analyzers can help you strengthen your quality control protocols

As with any form of packaging, you can’t completely control what happens once a product is sent or shipped out. There can always be issues. However, you should have a robust quality control protocol. A MAP Gas analyzer can show you what is within the atmosphere you create. This allows you to take gases that could potentially degrade or dry out your product and ensure they aren’t present when you have packaged up your cannabis ready for sale.

You can specifically purchase MAP gas analyzers that show you how much oxygen is left in the bag.

Conclusion

To put it simply, the more control you can keep over your cannabis packaging line, the better the product is likely to be. Don’t let too much oxygen make weed lose its potency, especially when this can be avoided so easily just by ensuring that you have a MAP packaging unit to remove any gases you don’t want from the atmosphere inside your packaging.

For dispensaries, or companies growing cannabis that want to control the atmosphere MAP packaging can be the ideal solution.

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