Compostable Coffee Bags
A Note About Our Bags
We're sick of chuckin' bags in the landfill! Although compostable bags are not a perfect solution to packaging waste, we sure think it's a step in the right direction. If you aren't able to compost our retail coffee bags yourself, please drop them off at one of our cafe locations so we can direct them to the right commercial composting facility.
In recent years we've faced the facts about our waste. Coffee is already a product that inherently cannot be truly local - it's grown in warm, equatorial climates around the globe - a far cry from the wild seasonality of Colorado's front range climate. Roasting coffee burns natural gas and uses a fair amount of electricity, and then we either deliver locally by driving around town, or ship bags back around the country to customer's homes and places of work. There is a fair amount of that process that cannot be avoided, but our packaging waste is limited only by new technology and local adaptation. We want to cue both our retail and wholesale customers into our journey, and our current solutions - there's a lot of greenwashing out there, and we'd rather land on the side of transparency.
- 2019 - We launched our first custom printed bags with a material called Biotre 1.0 from TricorBraun Flex (formerly Pacific Bag). This was made using 60% compostable / 60% plant-based material.
- 2021 - We went to a fully compostable bag made from 100% plant-based materials. This was from a company called MTPak. The main issue we had with these bags were that we were still taking off the tin-tie and cutting out the de-gassing valve to throw away.
- 2022 - We launched reusable buckets! This was a great solution for reducing waste with local wholesale customers. Each week we deliver two gallon buckets to our customers instead of five pound bags. Side note - there is no good solution to compostable five pound bags right now. It's too much weight for plant based packaging material to hold together, so no company that I know even manufactures them. The buckets have been a great success - reducing our wholesale packaging waste by an estimated 70%!
- 2023 - Our new 100% compostable bags are here! The same manufacturing company we printed our last retail bags with came out with a product that includes PLA zippers and tin ties, making it completely made out of plant based material (coated kraft paper and PLA). Read more about PLA here. In addition to the bags, we invested in fully compostable (and certified) label stock and adhesive.
While the PLA based bags have been certified compostable in Europe by Din Certco, we decided to run our own tests to see what they could do in a home-composting environment (this is in a worm bin). Note that commercial environments are much hotter and more intensive than a home composting environments, breaking down material at a far quicker rate. These are certified to decompose in a commercial environment in 90 days, but would take much longer at home.
While you can tell that the PLA has not broken down very efficiently in 90 days, there are definite signs of decomposition. It's a great thing to see when the alternative is decades or even hundreds of years! We're looking forward to future tests in commercial composting environments, and excited to see what future packaging solutions satisfy the journey to keep shrinking our environmental impact.
- Peter Wanberg
Owner, Jubilee Roasting Co