What does the OK Compost certification on coffee bags mean?

Yker Valerio
April 6, 2023
An image of an OK Compost certification on coffee bags in an article on OK Compost certification on coffee bags

While recycling can be an effective way to reduce waste, compostable packaging is another sound option. 

Compostable certified coffee bags can help reduce a roaster’s ecological footprint by reducing waste. According to recent research, businesses generated 139 million metric tons in 2021 – almost half the human population’s weight.

OK Compost certifications on packaging are a highly effective way to facilitate positive practices in consumers through composting.

Composting is an excellent way to reduce food waste pollution, which accounts for one-third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

To learn more about OK Compost certifications and coffee packaging, I spoke with Phillipe Dewolfs, business manager at TÜV Austria.

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What is compostable coffee packaging?

Compostable packaging materials are made using plant-based resources such as corn, sugarcane, or bamboo.

This makes it easier for the soil to break down the packaging components to transform them into nutrients.

When disposed of properly, compostable coffee bags produce nutrient-rich compost that leaves no environmentally damaging residue.

Compostable packaging is notably superior to traditional plastics, which can take decades to decompose. Interestingly, compostable materials may be better than those that are biodegradable.

This may be due to the fact that consumers often confuse biodegradable and compostable packaging.

Biodegradable materials are able to break down completely but may leave residue behind. Compostable materials, on the other hand, decompose and only release valuable nutrients into the soil.

That said, composting is unlikely to happen automatically. 

“It isn’t simply about throwing compostable packaging in the environment,” explains Philipe, who has worked at TÜV Austria for over four years.

“Composting requires several steps to be effective.” For example, the composting environment must reach certain temperatures and obtain a certain biochemical balance in order for the materials to break down.

An image of compostable coffee bags made from kraft paper with recyclable degassing valves in an article on OK Compost certification on coffee bags

What are OK Compost certifications?

OK compost certifications are a practical way to ensure that coffee bags are 100% compostable.

In this regard, OK compost certifications guarantee that all components, including inks and additives, are compostable in a specialised facility.

For packaging to receive an OK Compost certification, it must undergo rigorous evaluation and maintain strict quality standards.

“We work with local authorities and the government to audit compostable packaging, too,” explains Phillipe. 

This extra scrutiny helps to keep the certification’s reputation and assure the public of the transparency of OK Compost-certified bags.

Therefore, OK Compost certifications have various standards and labels for products dedicated to industrial and home use. 

What are OK Compost Home certified coffee bags?

Coffee bags that showcase the OK Compost Home certification are completely biodegradable in a garden’s compost heap.

Essentially, they are able to break down at a lower, more variable temperature than in an industrial composting facility.

Phillipe advises that one way to take full advantage of compostable coffee packaging is to collect food and coffee waste and add it to the compost heap. 

“Using compostable coffee capsules, for example, is a more straightforward process as they already contain a very rich and valuable material inside, which are coffee grounds,” Phillipe says. 

Investing in coffee bags with an OK Compost Home certification is a highly effective way to help reduce both packaging and organic waste.

This way, organic matter can be disposed of easily, by simply adding it to the compost heap.

An image of a barista pouring black coffee into a cup with a compostable coffee bag in the background, made from kraft paper in an article on OK Compost certification on coffee bags

How do OK Compost Industrial certified coffee bags differ?

The OK Compost Industrial certification differs slightly, as this packaging is only biodegradable in an industrial composting plant.

Coffee packaging needs certain requirements in order to obtain an OK Compost industrial certification.

  • Bioplastic materials must have a minimum of 90% biodegradation within 180 days in compost.
  • At least 90% of bioplastic materials must disintegrate into less than 2mm parts in compost within 90 days.
  • Hazardous substances, such as heavy metals and toxic chemicals, must be below the maximum allowed levels.
  • Bioplastic materials must contain over 50% organic materials.

OK Compost Industrial certified coffee bags must be sent to an industrial composting facility, following local regulations and procedures. 

Notably, it is important to remember OK Compost Industrial certified packaging is unlikely to benefit a homemade compost heap. 

“This is why education is crucial for effective composting at home,” Phillipe explains. 

Why should roasters obtain OK compost certifications for coffee packaging?

Roasters can benefit from OK Compost certifications in several ways. 

An investment like this can help coffee businesses become more sustainable and transparent. This, in turn, may have a positive impact on the environment and their communities.

Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of businesses and product packaging. 

A recent study suggests most customers are willing to pay 10% more for sustainable products.

Furthermore, obtaining an OK Compost certification can help build trust with like-minded business partners.

In a similar venue, relevant certifications such as B Corp can be more attainable after obtaining an OK Compost certification.

That said, Phillipe advises that the certification process is very rigorous. More so, random audits may be performed in order to ensure transparency and relevancy.

Investing in OK Compost certified coffee bags helps to reduce organic waste, the company’s carbon footprint, and its reliance on single-use plastics. 

In short, OK Compost certified coffee packaging is a practical solution to reduce roasters’ ecological impact.

This helps consumers to create more sustainable habits through composting, reducing food and single-plastic waste, which helps prevent ocean water pollution and climate change – two of the most insidious environmental problems of our time.

MTPak Coffee’s kraft paper and PLA packaging are certified by TÜV Austria as OK compost HOME and OK compost INDUSTRIAL.

Furthermore, we offer a selection of completely recyclable and compostable coffee packaging alternatives produced from renewable resources like kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an eco-friendly PLA lining, all of which reduce waste and support a circular economy.

We offer sustainable coffee packaging in a variety of shapes, including shaped pouches, stand-up bags, flat bottom pouches, quad seal bags, side gusset pouches, and drip coffee bags.

Furthermore, our range of corrugated kraft paper coffee mailer boxes is made from recycled cardboard and is available in a wide range of size options.

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

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