A Guide To Sustainability Certifications For Coffee Packaging

TJ Grant
December 7, 2020
sustainability certification

Over the last few years, consumers have it clear that sustainability tops their list of priorities. The number of eco-conscious consumers continues to grow and sustainable brands are now more important than ever. Some consumers have even suggested they would be willing to spend more on a product if it were produced by a brand focused on sustainability.

However, at a time in which terms like “natural” and “eco-friendly” are thrown around as marketing buzzwords, how can consumers trust the brands they are investing in?

Sustainability certifications on your coffee packaging are accredited, accessible and effective methods of communicating to your customers that your business and its practices are truly ethical. Read on to learn more.

See also: The Rise Of RTD & Cold Brew Coffee

sustainability certification coffee bag

What Is A Sustainability Certification?

Sustainability certifications for coffee packaging help create transparency within every stage of the supply chain. They demonstrate that a business has adhered to voluntary standards regarding environmental, social, ethical, and food safety issues.

These standards are reviewed by independent organisations who assess what is required in terms of social responsibility, environmental friendliness, and compliance with food safety regulations. If your packaging meets these standards, it will be certified.  

“A certification guarantees that the packaging complies with the right standards,” says Laura Fornero, Digital Projects Manager at Producer Roaster Forum.

“Once they have the certification, roasters and cafes can then create programmes to ensure the bags are disposed of properly, such as pick-up or drop-off services for coffee bags and takeaway packaging.

“For end consumers, it’s also an indication of how to properly dispose of the packaging,” she explains. This illustrates how sustainability certifications benefit everyone throughout the coffee supply chain.

recyclable coffee cup

Different Certifications For Sustainable Packaging

Laura tells me that there are various organisations, both global and regional, that specialise in testing and assessing packaging. To put it simply, if it passes the tests and complies with all the necessary standards, the packaging receives the certification.

One such company that does this is TÜV SÜD. They are a globally recognised testing, certifying, and auditing body that can provide businesses with an array of sustainable packaging certifications.

TÜV AUSTRIA is a separate organisation that assesses the biodegradability and bio-based content of your coffee packaging based on a series of rigorous tests. Once passed, your packaging can bear their certifications. 

These include OK compost (which informs local waste collection services and consumers that the packaging is biodegradable), and Forest Stewardship Council (which ensures sustainable and responsible usage of wood and paper for packaging materials).

MTPak Coffee packaging carries both of these certifications. We provide FSC certified paper and OK compost certified packaging for both industrial and home use.

Commonly Used Certifiable Materials

“A lot of tested sustainable materials are plant-based, such as PLA, rice paper, and kraft paper,” Laura says. “The packaging can be compostable, biodegradable, or recyclable. Each of these are tested by a third party, before being issued the certification.”

MTPak Coffee uses kraft paper made from wood pulp that’s 100% natural, biodegradable, and compostable. Our rice paper originates from responsible, renewable sources, such as bamboo and Qintan tree bark.

Our low-density polyethylene (LDPE) coffee packaging is 100% recyclable and safe for consumers to reuse, while our polylactic acid (PLA) materials are plant-based so they can be easily composted. As an ever-greater number of countries ban single-use plastics, PLA is quickly becoming the more eco-friendly alternative.

Laura tells me that food safety certifications are also an important factor for coffee packaging.

“The amount of materials, adhesives, and inks used for coffee bags means it’s important to ensure the packaging is safe and that no substances contaminate the coffee beans,” she says.

“If it does, it can alter the taste and aroma of the coffee, or affect its shelf life. Roasted beans are highly porous, so the packaging must offer adequate protection and zero contamination.”

MTPak Coffee’s water-based inks are easily compostable and removable for recycling. We also make sure that our packaging is resealable for maximum freshness.

sustainability coffee

Why Should We Use Sustainable Certifications?

Sustainability is a topic that can no longer be overlooked. The United Nations estimates that we would need three planets to bear the demand of our current lifestyles by 2050, which means we need to change our processes in a number of areas, including the packaging sector.”

“Not only do sustainably certified coffee bags guarantee a lower environmental footprint, they help strengthen and reinforce a company’s commitment to environmental sustainability,” Laura explains.

This was confirmed by a 2015 survey that found that 81 percent of millennials expect companies to declare their corporate social responsibilities. 

Certifications indicate that your coffee packaging aligns with the integrity and ethics of your business, giving your clients and customers trust and confidence.

“A roaster with a strong commitment to lessening their environmental impact might opt for packaging that matches their values, such as a 100% recyclable or compostable coffee bag,” Laura says.

However, it’s crucial we provide more information on what sustainability certifications mean, particularly for consumers who discard their packaging. 

She adds: “It’s necessary to invest time and effort into explaining the meaning of the various symbols and logos, and how to dispose of the bags to achieve maximum sustainability.”

Sustainability certifications can seem confusing at times. However, with the right guidance and expertise from MTPak Coffee, you can rest assured that your coffee packaging is certified as being sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly.

For more information on sustainability certifications for coffee packaging, contact our team.

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