Sustainable packaging trends: What can we expect in 2023?

Hayley Osbourne
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May 30, 2023
An image of a recyclable coffee bag along side custom-printed takeaway coffee cups in an article explaining the predicted sustainable packaging trends in the specialty coffee industry

For years, petroleum-based plastics dominated the packaging industry. Polypropylene (PP) and Styrofoam were popular materials used to create several forms of single-use items, such as takeaway coffee cups and plastic carrier bags. However, over time, these materials have fallen out of favour due to their negative impact on the environment and inability to be recycled.

Innovations in technology have given rise to sustainable packaging alternatives, including several materials made from renewable sources. Notably, the percentage of consumers that are demanding sustainable packaging has risen to 81%. Therefore, it is essential for roasters and cafés to make the switch, as doing so can widen their customer base and help build a loyal client base.

That said, the packaging industry is always developing, with new “sustainable” trends emerging all the time. The advantages of following trends can range from remaining competitive to reducing the environmental impact of a coffee business’ activities. Following packaging trends can help cafés and roasters build a larger customer base, boost their social media presence, and have a better understanding of what is happening in the industry.

Take a look at the sustainable packaging trends that cafés and roasters can expect to see in 2023.

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Why should you care about packaging trends?

While a brand’s packaging may already be established, it is important to remember there is always room for improvement. Staying on top of packaging trends can help a brand reinvigorate its look, excite customers, and improve sales.

Fast-food chain McDonald’s, for instance, has regularly updated its logo. While the logo has always been the iconic golden arches, the style and additional text have changed to adapt to trends over the years. The ability to adapt quickly has helped the brand retain its popularity and remain one of the top companies in the fast food industry.

When it comes to packaging trends, coffee brands use updated designs to increase marketing efforts. Alternatively, roasters and cafés can keep on top of trends in order to improve the sustainability of packaging and appeal to a growing number of eco-conscious consumers.

An image of a coffee roaster packing a coffee subscription box, coffee mailer box with secondary packaging materials in an article explaining the predicted sustainable packaging trends in the specialty coffee industry

What are the predicted trends for 2023?

Coffee roasters are suppliers of an arguably essential product. Therefore, it is a roaster’s responsibility to provide customers with a viable way to enjoy coffee without making them accomplices in the plastic waste crisis.

Downsizing packaging materials

A recent study found 50% of participants had switched brands due to the amount of unnecessary packaging that comes with the product. Reducing the amount of secondary packaging used can reduce the environmental impact of the business.

The reduction of unnecessary packaging is also beneficial as it is more convenient for consumers. By ensuring the material is as lightweight as possible, companies can further ensure they are being environmentally friendly, as research shows lightweight coffee packaging may help reduce waste until global recycling rates improve sufficiently.

A shift away from compostable materials

When disposed of correctly, compostable coffee packaging can benefit the environment and provide the soil with nutrients. That said, studies reveal the correct disposal of compostable packaging is lower than that of recyclable materials.

This may be due to the fact that many consumers may lack a compost heap at home and simply have to place recyclable packaging in a bin. Furthermore, most compostable materials are only disposable at commercial compost units, which many consumers may not be able to access easily.

The increasing popularity of reusable packaging

Reusable packaging options, such as coffee bags with zippers, tins, and reusable cups, often negate the need for single-use plastics. Generally speaking, refillable packaging allows us to completely eliminate the energy and waste associated with creating new packaging, minimising its effect on the environment.

Large coffee chains, such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks, and Pret, often offer discounts to consumers who bring reusable cups, which has increased the popularity of reusable packaging. In some cases, specialty coffee roasters package beans in containers such as custom coffee tins or resealable jars. As well as standing out among competitor products, these are also likely to appeal to consumers who prefer reusable packaging.

By using refillable packaging, coffee brands can showcase a commitment to the environment, which is becoming a priority for consumers. Studies show 83% of Millennials try to be environmentally conscious, compared to 77% of older generations.

An image of a recyclable coffee bag on a counter in an article explaining the predicted sustainable packaging trends in the specialty coffee industry

What changes can roasters make?

Staying on track with packaging trends can help roasters and cafés remain relevant and in line with competitors.

Provide reusable packaging

Adapting to provide a variety of reusable packaging may increase sales as there would be more options for consumers to choose from. On top of this, roasters can provide different designs across the board for all the reusable packaging options. For instance, roasters can change the designs to align with particular holidays or limited edition releases. That said, it is important for companies to maintain familiarity with all marketing materials to keep brand awareness high.

Avoid unnecessary packaging

Over 80% of adults in the UK think companies use too much packaging, most of which is disposed of incorrectly. Additional packaging materials also account for deforestation, which is misaligned with consumers’ growing sustainable needs. To avoid this, roasters can ensure their coffee packaging is the correct size and shape. This ensures the product is packaged and transported correctly, limiting the risk of damage.

Invest in recyclable materials

For something to qualify as recyclable, the material must be capable of being used again, either for the same purpose or for a new product. The aim is to reduce the consumption of raw materials, thereby reducing energy usage, air pollution, and water pollution. It also offers a sustainable solution to regular waste streams by lowering input into municipal landfills.

The majority of plastic specialty coffee packaging is made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE). It’s recognised for its flexibility and durability, making it a useful material for coffee packaging. It is also 100% recyclable. This is because, in the majority of cases, it can be taken to the nearest recycling unit to be disposed of, or collected by coffee roasters as part of a recycling scheme.

This helps specialty coffee roasters reduce their carbon footprint, and outlines their commitment to environmental sustainability, while ensuring their coffee arrives to the customer as fresh as possible.

MTPak Coffee understands the importance of sustainable coffee packaging that can be adapted in an easy and cost-effective manner. We offer a range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options made from renewable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining. Choose from our range of coffee bag structures to ensure they fit perfectly into your coffee mailer boxes.

All of our coffee packaging options can be fully customised to your specifications, including debossing, embossing, holographic effects, UV spot finishes, 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 sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team.

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Hayley Osbourne
Hayley Osbourne

Hayley is a writer for MTPak Coffee and is very passionate about her craft.

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