This was just one twist and turn in our recent packaging update project…
Potholes On the Road to Sustainability.
For close to three years, as well as being in a fairly standard pandemic packaging pickle dealing with delays on current inventory, we've been in an attempted switch to sustainable packaging. Emphasis on attempted. Not being able to find sustainable packaging systems that also preserve the quality of the product is to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
While soft plastic recyclable systems look to be gaining momentum, we searched elsewhere due to the high carbon count from fossil fuel production.
Both paper and bulk metal buckets (for café supply) failed our quality preservation tests.
A product marketed as plant-based, high barrier curb-side recyclable passed our quality tests. Then failed when we found out councils don’t recognise them as recyclable.
Finally, we found a decent solution in compostable.
Compostable; Breakages and A Breakthrough.
While we’ve been unable to switch to compostable 1kg bags due to the material not with-standing the weight, we have succeeded with testing for both quality and sustainability on our 250g and 150g bags.
These new bags are made from rapidly renewing Eucalyptus trees and Cassava root. Their materials and production contribute to a 50% smaller carbon footprint than our previous bags, which is a saving of 22.6 tonne of carbon each year. Additionally, over a five year period, these plantmade bags mean 73% less fossil fuel use and 10 tonne less traditional plastic production.
The whole bag, including the valve (necessary due to the high barrier nature of the bag to allow volatile gases to escape), are 100% home compostable. The paper for our labels is made from sugarcane and bagasse (agricultural waste), with BioTAKS100, the world's first compostable adhesive for labelling. And the inks and varnishes are plastic free. Cheers to suppliers taking on this brave new compostable world.
Our Coffee’s Never Rubbish; Circular Compostable Disposal.
The carbon production score of our new bags is relatively good. Getting the bags into compost is the next hurdle, though, so we can achieve a higher circularity score. The NSW EPA lifted that hurdle significantly higher in September this year when it ruled that only food waste would be accepted in NSW FOGO bins. We were fully invested in compostable packaging by that stage (this sustainability pioneering is risky business). Where there’s a will there’s a way, however. As well as having the support of a small but passionate home composting community, armed with their Bokashi bins and worm farms, we have other hopes to achieve circularity. Customers can return their empty 250g and 150g bags to us for composting via our industrial composting service, and they can receive a free (also compostable) Parachute Coffee Drip Bag.
Time To Unzip On Those Zip-Locks.
When our final test samples of our 250g bags arrived - the first shape to be made in compostable materials and with it a guessing game of dimensions - it turned out 250 grams of coffee didn’t fit inside.
It’s quite funny…now.
Necessity became the mother of sustainability invention. We were cornered into considering to drop the zip-lock from the design to create headroom for the coffee. As soon as our subsequent tests showed that by rolling and clipping our bags to reseal them helped retain freshness better than zip-locking to seal our bags, we were sold. Fresher coffee. And an extra 12% carbon per bag saved.
So hey. For all the twists and turns, there has been a little luck in achieving both quality and sustainability along the way. As new packaging types and circular disposal system arise, sustainable packaging will continue to evolve, as will our packaging along with it, including our 1kg in 2023. Exciting times!
Cookie heads up! If we could we'd call 'em biccies & we'd be dunking 'em in coffee, but sadly these bad boys are virtual & non-edible.