Are coffee mailer boxes environmentally friendly?

Karmen Yoong
January 30, 2023
An image of a custom printed coffee mailer box made from kraft paper on a table with coffee brewing equipment, custom coffee mailer boxes, in an article on sustainable coffee mailer boxes

The growth of ecommerce and the proliferation of online shopping have increased demand for packaged and shipped goods. 

This has presented a need for businesses to increase product visibility and promote their brand presence through packaging. 

Mailer boxes have become the go-to packaging choice for many brands because of their cost-effectiveness and functional aspects. For specialty coffee cafes and roasters, in particular, coffee mailer boxes are easily customisable from size and material to design and features.

More so, as a form of packaging, coffee mailer boxes are not restricted to subscription services. Notably, they serve as a packaging solution for roasters offering blind-tasting boxes, limited edition coffees, and holiday gift boxes.

That said, packaging waste has become a major concern among customers. Therefore, it is vital roasters and cafes design fully recyclable coffee mailer boxes.

Discover what makes coffee mailer boxes environmentally friendly and how they help to minimise packaging waste.

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What materials are used to make coffee mailer boxes?

In their simplest form, coffee mailer boxes are made from paper. The two main types of paper used are kraft paper and test paper. 

Named after a chemical pulping process, kraft paper is a strong, natural substrate. The pulping process involves boiling wood chips in sodium sulphide and sodium hydroxide, which chemically converts them into wood pulp.

The process also removes lignin from the pulp. Lignin refers to a type of polymer that binds cellulose fibres together at a microscopic level.

As a result, the pulp is high in cellulose, which is the principal component of paper and is naturally structurally resistant.

Important to note is there are various types of kraft paper, such as virgin kraft paper and recycled kraft paper. 

Top-quality cardboard boxes are typically made using virgin kraft paper. Virgin kraft paper is produced with fresh pulp and excludes recycled materials. 

Alternatively, test paper often contains recycled fibres and is significantly weaker than kraft paper.

To construct cardboard boxes, the materials go through a process called flute lamination or corrugation. 

Here, flute refers to a wavy piece of board that is attached and sandwiched between a test paper interior liner and a kraft paper exterior liner. 

Notably, flute plays a crucial role in the structural design of cardboard as it contributes significantly to the strength and performance of cardboard boxes.

As they are paper-based, coffee mailer boxes are considered a greener choice of packaging compared to single-use plastics.

Importantly, they are made with materials that are recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable.

Biodegradable materials are those that eventually degrade in the environment. On the other hand, compostable materials are those that break down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass under the right condition.

Essentially, all compostable material is biodegradable, but not all biodegradable material is compostable. 

In the case of cardboard, it is both biodegradable and compostable, making it an excellent option for sustainable packaging.

An image of a custom printed coffee mailer box, kraft paper coffee mailer box, kraft coffee mailer box with a custom printed LDPE coffee bag in an article on sustainable coffee mailer boxes

Will customising my coffee mailer box change its recyclability?

The customisation of coffee mailer boxes comes in various forms, such as custom printing, labelling, embossing, and debossing, among others.

Digital printing allows customised designs to be printed on all sides of a coffee mailer box, as well as the interior.

This allows roasters to integrate any information about the brand or coffee into the packaging. This can include the use of QR codes, text, images, dates and more.

Through the careful pairing of logos, design patterns, colour, and typography, specialty roasters can create coffee packaging that is distinctive to the brand identity.

In addition to custom printing, roasters commonly attach customised labels to the coffee mailer box. 

However, it is essential to ensure the label and adhesive will not compromise the recyclability of the packaging materials.

For instance, mixing compostable packaging with recyclable labels may contaminate the compost with plastics or petroleum-based adhesives. Inks are also a common issue in sustainable packaging.

Specifically, volatile organic compounds or VOCs are compounds derived from petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry cleaning agents. These often have a high vapour pressure and low water solubility.

When exposed to sunlight, VOCs react with nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere to produce ground-level ozone. This is a major component of urban smog, which poses health and environmental hazards.

As such, sustainable inks, such as water-based inks, are a popular alternative among coffee roasters. These inks are low in volatile organic compounds (VOC), compostable and easily removable for recycling.

Embossing and debossing are also used to improve the overall look and feel of coffee mailer boxes. In particular, embossed and debossed elements are most effective for enhancing the sophistication of the packaging as well as indicating its quality.

Most importantly, embossing and debossing create an additional tactile experience for consumers without affecting the recyclability of the packaging.

An image of a kraft coffee mailer box, custom coffee mailer, kraft paper coffee mailer box, with custom printed multilayer LDPE coffee bags in an article on sustainable coffee mailer boxes

Reduce packaging waste with coffee mailer boxes

The growing demand for packaged goods has increased the level of packaging waste at an alarming rate. 

Notably, the amount of packaging waste generated per inhabitant in the European Union rose by 18.2% between 2009 and 2020.

Typically, waste that is not recycled or composted ends up in a landfill or the ocean. This pollutes the environment and poses a negative impact on human health. 

Due to the growing concern and awareness around sustainability, eliminating packaging waste has become a priority for businesses.  

Consumers who receive their product in wasteful packaging are likely to form a bad impression of the brand. To make matters worse, it may deter them from making purchases.

Customised coffee mailer boxes can help prevent the need for excessive packaging.

When standard cardboard boxes are used, shippers often add extra layers of packaging material such as plastic, bubble wrap, or styrofoam to protect the product.

This leads to over-packaging, and consequently, a negative consumer experience. 

On the other hand, a custom box that reflects the dimensions of the product will keep its contents secure. This eliminates the need for extra packaging while optimising box space. 

If absolutely necessary, roasters can explore using custom inserts or void fillers. 

That said, the life cycle of each material must be considered to ensure the packaging is fully sustainable. For instance, roasters can use eco-friendly fillers such as honeycomb paper or recycled cardboard. 

By making the switch to our sustainable coffee mailer boxes, roasters can showcase their responsibility and commitment towards the environment. More so, they can provide the best consumer experience.

At MTPak Coffee, we offer coffee mailer boxes made from 100% recycled cardboard and kraft paper. . 

With their high level of strength, durability, and weather resistance, coupled with our wide range of size options, our coffee mailer boxes are the perfect solution to support an environmentally-friendly coffee business.

Our range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options is made from renewable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining.

Our coffee mailer boxes can be customised to your specifications, including debossing, embossing, and custom printing using digital printing technology. 

This allows us to offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters, as well as a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time.

For more information on custom-printed environmentally friendly coffee mailer boxes, contact our team.

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Karmen Yoong
Karmen Yoong

Karmen has been a writer for MTPak Coffee for several years and is very passionate about her craft.

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