Which coffee packaging is best suited for B Corp-certified brands?

Janice Kanniah
March 28, 2024
coffee packaging, coffee bags, recyclable coffee bags, recyclable coffee packaging, B Corp, Aldea Coffee

Enhancing sustainability standards across all industries and sectors has proven to boost brand revenue. Notably, research shows that as many as 81% of consumers would rather buy from sustainable brands. Additionally, 88% want brands to demonstrate an immediate and urgent commitment to future sustainability

As calls for transparency grow louder, many brands are choosing to invest in coffee packaging made from sustainable or compostable materials. Additionally, coffee businesses are looking for certifications to back up environmental claims. An increasingly popular route is one offered by B Corporation, otherwise known as “B Corp”. 

In essence, a B Corp certification assures consumers that a company is a not-for-profit and redirects its gains towards investments that ensure a positive global impact. This is opposed to keeping the profits or reinvesting in a new stock drive, for example. The B Corp label can be a challenge to earn, but once achieved, it is a proud badge of honour for sustainable, mission-driven companies. 

So, which coffee packaging is best suited to brands that are already B Corp-certified? I spoke to Brittany Goode, the Operations Manager for Michigan’s Aldea Coffee.

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The benefits of becoming B Corp-certified 

Aldea Coffee runs two cafés and a warehouse in Muskegon, Michigan. Initially, the business began as a non-profit organisation financing Honduran farmers. It has since developed into a well-established brand that imports small batches of green coffee directly from producers at origin and roasts it in-house. 

“When someone asks about our B Corp certification, I always use the basic definition of a ‘certification that certifies companies as socially and environmentally responsible,” Brittany laughs. She says she tends to keep the explanation simple, as it can be incredibly overwhelming. 

However, she says that her “hope is that it sparks interest in people to look out for the logo and research more on their own. The more that people become familiar with other B Corp companies, the clearer the definition becomes.” 

Founded in 2006, B Corp not only offers a stamp of approval for those using their business as a force for good, but it also opens the door to a community of like-minded companies. It is a certification that helps mission-driven companies protect and improve their positive impact over time. The idea is that each certified company will work towards a greater end than profit alone by delivering a positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.

This includes everything from reduced inequality and lower levels of poverty to a healthier environment and the creation of more high-quality jobs. To become Certified B Corp, businesses must demonstrate they meet “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”. Specifically, they must achieve a minimum B Impact Assessment score of 83 against a set of social and environmental standards.

coffee packaging, coffee bags, recyclable coffee bags, recyclable coffee packaging, B Corp, Aldea Coffee

How does being a B Corp impact your packaging?

Brittany explains that being a B Corp impacts almost every aspect of Aldea, including its branding. This requires following the guidelines and standards provided by B Lab. Aldea aims for impact with its branding and uses it to share its improvements and progress on certain goals. 

“While I don’t believe there were certain legal requirements [regarding] our packaging, we still look to local and state-level goals and regulations,” she says, adding that the brand did “a ton of research.”

In the end, Brittany says the team concluded that using “post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials that are #4” work best. “In West Michigan, composting is not available, so it made more sense for us to use a material that was renewable and recyclable,” she says. 

“I wouldn’t say there is a specific path we needed to walk as far as production and packaging went. However, it definitely helped us score higher on some of the questions we had throughout the process of investing in recyclable materials.” 

coffee packaging, coffee bags, recyclable coffee bags, recyclable coffee packaging, B Corp, Aldea Coffee

What do B Corp-compliant coffee bags look like?

Coffee brands have a variety of sustainable materials options to choose from. However, factors such as budget, monthly demand, and delivery mechanisms will determine which is best for your business. Brands should also expect packaging options to evolve as the business grows and as laws and regulations evolve. 

Late in 2023, Aldea debuted its new coffee bags, which took over a year to develop. The brand currently packages its coffee in bags made from 85% post-consumer recycled material. The coffee bags are 100% recyclable in local curbside recycling bins. Beyond this, each bag conveys icons that represent the business practices that align with the brand’s B Corp certification.

During the design process, Brittany says she looked through the brand’s B Corp Assessment. “I noticed they were also pushing for more recyclable & renewable materials. By updating our packaging in a way that aligns with the B Corp guides, we were able to develop more efficient coffee bags that are easier to use both on the production side and in our cafés.”

Brittany suggests that coffee roasters aiming to become B Corp certified should do runs of sample bags to provide them with practical experience before making a commitment. “It’s also a priority within the B Corp community and coffee community to look for recyclable and/or compostable materials. Anything renewable will be required eventually,” she adds.

While becoming a Certified B Corp roaster may require some additional work, its benefits for both your company and the long-term future of the coffee industry are well worth the effort. Not only will you have the opportunity to do business with others in the B Corp community, you’ll also be able to share ideas and find ways of improving your impact on a daily basis.

One of the areas that contribute to your B Impact Assessment score is sustainability, which includes the packaging you use for your roasted coffee. At MTPak Coffee, we offer a range of environmentally friendly options, from biodegradable pouches to fully compostable cups. Our team can help you create the perfect sustainable coffee bags for your brand that will help showcase the quality of your coffee as well as your commitment to the environment.

Images courtesy of Aldea Coffee.

For more information on sustainable coffee bags, contact our team.

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