Will my compostable coffee bags break down in transit?

Janice Kanniah
March 28, 2023
An image of a commpostable coffee bag made from compostable coffee packaging materials in an article on whether compostable coffee bags break down in transit

As the owner of a coffee business, it is likely you’ve considered transitioning from traditional plastic packaging to more sustainable alternatives. 

If so, you will understand there is a lack of universal packaging quality standards. This may result in an unsatisfactory experience for your customers, or leave you reluctant to leave traditional plastic materials behind. 

As packaging represents your brand to customers, it is natural to be wary of alternatives, such as compostable materials, when you are unsure of their strength and durability. 

In order to make authentically sustainable choices and avoid claims of greenwashing, roasters should fully investigate their compostable packaging options. Furthermore, they should address their questions before committing to compostable coffee bags. 

A common concern with compostable coffee bags is their ability to retain form and shape during storage and transit. 

Read on to discover how compostable coffee bags typically fare during transit and storage, and how to ensure their durability. 

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Why choose compostable coffee bags?

Compostable coffee packaging has become more affordable and accessible to roasters over the last few years. 

Notably, consumers are aware of this. A recent survey conducted in the UK reveals eco-conscious customers prefer compostable materials over recycled plastics

According to the survey, this is because customers understand flexible plastic packaging can be challenging to reuse. Therefore, customers are willing to pay more for compostable packaging. 

A stakeholder of the study concluded its findings by stating the e-commerce sector has fallen behind as most online shopping purchases are packaged in plastic

The survey suggests brands that want to get ahead of consumer trends should make the switch to compostable materials as quickly as possible. 

A 2014 study by California Polytechnic researched the impact of package quality on consumer satisfaction. The study found packaging quality can influence consumers’ evaluation and satisfaction of and with a business, while also encouraging brand relationships and repeat purchase behaviour. 

It also discovered consumers tend to view traditional packaging as higher quality but less environmentally friendly. This suggests consumer preferences concerning packaging quality and sustainability can contradict each other.

This is apparent when considering compostable packaging. Customers may be wary of it if they assume the qualities that make it environmentally friendly also render it less robust.

An image of a compostable coffee bag made from compostable coffee packaging in an article on whether compostable coffee bags break down in transit

The truth about compostable packaging

Many customers may be unaware of the difference between home compostable packaging and packaging material that must be composted industrially. 

This is often where confusion over the longevity of compostable packaging stems from. To avoid confusing customers, it is important for you to communicate which option you have chosen for your coffee bags. 

Consumers can throw home compostable coffee bags into their own compost heap and it will break down without intervention. 

However, industrial compostable packaging only breaks down in artificially created conditions. For this to take place, customers must dispose of it in order for it to be collected by the appropriate facility. 

Should it land in a landfill with standard waste, it may take decades to break down. 

In short, home compostable packaging may break down in transit if subjected to intense humidity and heat — industrial compostable packaging is likely to keep its shape.

Much confusion may also stem from the fact that the use of labelling is often poorly regulated in several countries. This allows businesses to label something as home or industrial compostable without backing up their claims. 

More so, customers have become aware of this, and many are questioning what happens to their packaging once it is disposed of. 

The best way to avoid claims of greenwashing is to invest in the correct type of compostable coffee packaging for your product.

Additionally, it should be labelled appropriately to ensure customers understand how it should be disposed of or where it can be placed for collection. 

An image of a display of compostable coffee bags made from compostable packaging materials in an article on whether compostable coffee bags break down in transit

How to use compostable coffee packaging

There are ways you can ensure your coffee bags survive transit and storage, and are disposed of responsibly.

For example, consider the steps taken when selecting, storing, and dispatching compostable coffee packaging for transit. 

Understand which packaging options to use and when

Home compostable packaging is more likely to break down in transit than industrial compostable packaging.

You can eliminate this concern by securing a temperature and humidity-controlled storage and transport environment.

Those with a smaller budget or limited operating space may want to reserve unlined compostable coffee bags for smaller volumes of sample sizes of coffee. 

Customers can then purchase these bags from you in-store, allowing you to use lined industrial compostable packaging for larger online orders

Include clear instructions

Educating customers on how to manage their used coffee packaging is always a good idea. 

For example, consider custom-printing storage instructions onto coffee bags, advising consumers to store the coffee in a cool dry place

Your industrial compostable packaging can be custom-printed with clear instructions on how to treat the coffee bags once they are empty. 

For instance, these instructions can include tips on how to remove zips or lining before disposal, and where to place the bag to avoid the contamination of recyclable materials. 

Make sure you have a disposal strategy

It is essential to offer customers ways to easily and ethically dispose of their compostable coffee bags. 

More so, it is important to provide them with clear instructions on how to do so. 

This includes informing them of whether they must place their empty coffee bags in a certain bin.

If no collection or processing facilities are available in the area, you may want to consider collecting used packaging yourself to arrange its processing. 

For roasters who want to make the switch, it is essential to choose a quality packaging supplier that understands the importance of creating quality, attractive packaging to sell specialty coffee.

MTPak Coffee offers roasters and coffee shops a range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options that include compostable coffee bags and takeaway coffee cups

Our line of coffee packaging options is made from renewable materials, such as compostable kraft paper, and rice paper, as well as multilayer LDPE coffee bags with an environmentally friendly PLA lining, all of which minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy.

More so, we give you complete control over the design process by allowing you to build your own coffee bags. Our design team is available to help you create the ideal coffee packaging. 

Plus, we are able to custom-print coffee bags using innovative digital printing technology, with a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time. 

For more information on compostable coffee bags, contact our team

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