Eco-friendly Coffee Bags: Why Are Some Inks & Labels More Sustainable Than Others?

Mark Zhou
July 20, 2020
One-of-a-kind coffee packaging

Your coffee packaging does more than protect the integrity of the beans within. It also differentiates your brand from its competitors and tells consumers what they need to know about your coffee’s origin, flavour profile, and ideal brewing methods.

Coffee’s impact on the environment continues to be under a spotlight, and everything from your choice of coffee beans to your packaging now needs to be sustainably produced. While sustainable packaging starts with choosing an eco-friendly material, you should also consider the inks and labels you use.

As a coffee packaging specialist, MTPak understands the importance of being able to store your coffee in a way that’s eco-friendly and functional. Here’s why environmentally friendly packaging matters for coffee roasters, and how inks and labels play an important role in your packaging’s sustainability.

Kraft paper is a biodegradable and compostable coffee packaging option.

What Are The Sustainability Issues Surrounding Inks & Labels?

Sustainable project packaging will perform well, be cost-effective, use renewable or recycled materials, and rely on manufacturing processes with a low or neutral environmental impact. Several sustainable coffee packaging materials exist, including kraft, rice paper, and low-density polyethylene, which are all easily recyclable or biodegradable.

Inks and labels can prevent your packaging from being sustainable. Ink needs to bond with the packaging’s surface to resist abrasion, water, and heat throughout its lifecycle. It can be difficult to remove, making recycling challenging if the inks contain harmful materials or have a non-renewable petroleum base.

Labels can also keep your packaging from being sustainable if non-renewable adhesives are used to attach the label to the packaging’s surface.

The Rising Consumer Demand For Sustainable Packaging

Millennials and Generation Z currently make up the world’s largest consumer group, and are both aware of the negative impact disposable packaging has on the environment. For this reason, they prefer eco-friendly products and are willing to pay more for them.

However, they’re also unwilling to compromise on quality. This means they’ll expect your coffee’s packaging to be eco-friendly by default, as well as being strong and well-designed. They’re also likely to judge your brand’s dedication to sustainability as a whole, which means that sourcing your coffee from the right producer won’t be enough.

You need to make sure your entire product is sustainable – including the packaging, inks, and labels you use to protect your beans. It could make the difference for a consumer choosing between your coffee and a competitor’s.

Easy to recognise symbols can communicate whether or not your packaging is totally recyclable.

Using MTPak’s Recyclable Packaging & Labels 

MTPak has developed eco-friendly labels and inks for use with its coffee packaging. Instead of using petroleum-based ink, they instead use water-based inks that have low levels of volatile organic compounds, which can be damaging for the environment. These inks, however, do not compromise on quality and resist abrasion, water, and heat, are compostable, as well as being easily removed during recycling. Furthermore, when printed on coffee packaging, they won’t migrate to other packaging layers or affect the coffee within.

These inks are available in a range of finishes to suit customers’ needs. For example, you can contrast your matte packaging with metallic inks, as done on this Purelogica Coffee & Co. pouch or this Roastwork Coffee Co. coffee bag. It’s also possible to add a varnish to protect the detailing on both the inside and outside of the coffee bag. Of course, when adding ink to the interior, you will need to make sure that your choice of coating is compliant with local safety regulations.

In a recent poll conducted by MTPak, 70% of respondents stated that they believed biodegradability to be more important than recyclability. Without the right eco-friendly ink, your packaging might not be biodegradable or compostable, and therefore may well not be appealing to as many potential customers as it could.

MTPak uses labels that are compostable and easy to remove for recycling, should the packaging and its labels need to be recycled separately. There’s also the option to use less labeling by integrating a QR code into the packaging. Scanning this code with a smartphone will take the customer to a website containing images and details on your coffee’s origin, its producers, and your brewing recommendations.

Like standard inks, eco-friendly inks can also provide a metallic effect to your coffee packaging.

To meet the needs of today’s coffee’s customers, it’s not enough for your coffee beans to be sustainably grown. Your packaging needs to be sustainable, too. You need to offer your customers a way to preserve their coffee with a minimum negative impact on the environment.

Sustainable inks and labels can help your roastery demonstrate its attention to detail as well as your commitment to the environment. To ensure your packaging meets these requirements without compromising on quality, choose an experienced specialty coffee packaging supplier such as MTPak to package your coffee. We’ll guide you through every step of your sustainable packaging journey, from concept all the way to delivery.

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