Why your recyclable coffee packaging needs to be as convenient as possible 

Maira Kanai-Nasir
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June 12, 2024
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Recent studies have found that at least 60% of European consumers prioritise convenient coffee packaging when making purchasing decisions. Additionally, as more consumers become environmentally conscious, businesses are under pressure to adopt sustainable practices and packaging materials. One way specialty coffee roasters have done this is by switching to recyclable coffee packaging. 

However, it’s essential that you make your recyclable coffee packaging as convenient for your consumers as possible. This will include how the packaging is opened and resealed and how it should be disposed of. Ensuring your coffee packaging is easy to manage can prevent it from ending up in a landfill while boosting the perception of your brand. 

So, how can you make your recyclable coffee packaging accommodate the consumer’s lifestyle? 

Read on as Jo Thompson, the founder of Triple Co Roast, shares his thoughts. 

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Make recyclable coffee packaging easy to throw away

One of the most important factors to consider when investing in coffee packaging is how it will be disposed of. Many studies show that a lack of recycling infrastructure is a significant issue with plastic waste. While several countries have well-established recycling programmes, many lack the infrastructure to manage plastic waste effectively. 

Therefore, brands must investigate their local waste facilities to determine whether they accept recyclable materials. 

Triple Co Roast is an open access specialty coffee roastery located in the heart of Bristol, England. Owner Jo shares why his brand decided to invest in recyclable coffee bags. 

“We chose coffee bags made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE) number 4 as we saw an increased demand in our city Bristol for a recyclable solution.” He explains that previously, the brand used coffee bags made from polyethylene (PE). “They were effective but ultimately not recyclable,” He says. “We’ve noticed that using LDPE4 coffee bags has helped with our branding and sales as we can show customers that we care about our environment.” 

Many consumers can determine whether coffee packaging is recyclable by searching for the universal recycling symbol. This symbol comprises a triangle made up of three arrows looping back on themselves in a clockwise direction. While this symbol indicates that a product can be recycled, it does not denote whether it has been produced from recycled materials. Occasionally, the symbol will feature a percentage in the middle, which signifies how much of the product is derived from recycled materials.

However, a recent study found that 55% of customers admitted to being confused about which materials are recyclable. More so, over half of the participants said it’s easier to throw the packaging in the bin instead of trying to figure out if it could be recycled. In Europe, many customers admit to being unsure of whether materials must be separated before disposal. Additionally, they were not sure if these materials had to be cleaned before recycling. Overall, a lack of clear disposal information seems to be at the root of the recycling problem. 

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Recyclable coffee packaging designed for consumers

Resealing

Once coffee packaging is opened, the product’s deterioration will accelerate due to exposure to moisture and oxygen. Additionally, the loss of volatile compounds in the coffee and oxidation will have a noticeable effect on the quality of the brew. 

Resealable coffee bags offer consumers the convenience of preserving the freshness of the coffee without having to transfer the beans or ground coffee into another container. Additionally, if you choose the right packaging materials and seal, your coffee bags can be partially or fully recycled. 

The majority of resealable zippers used in recyclable coffee packaging are made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or polylactic acid (PLA). That said, these materials can cause confusion among consumers, as each must be disposed of in different ways. For example, if the coffee bag is made of a different material than that of the zipper, it may have to be separated from the packaging before recycling.

Understanding the materials and terminology regarding coffee packaging requires due diligence, and it is essential that coffee roasters convey this information to consumers.

Modern consumers want convenience and resealable coffee packaging ticks that box. Market research has shown that the popularity of packaging “requiring superhuman efforts” to open is “declining rapidly”. To be successful, businesses need to adopt flexible packaging that “recognises the importance of secure closing coupled with easy opening, dispensing, and reclosability”.

Transparent windows

Adding a transparent window to your coffee packaging is a highly effective way to tempt customers into making a purchase. One way to think of transparent windows on coffee bags is like a storefront window display: products are arranged to provoke curiosity, with the aim of “inviting” consumers to try more.

In the case of specialty coffee, the look of the product is an essential selling point. Transparent windows can assure customers they are buying a high-quality product. Additionally, the window allows them to check certain factors for themselves, such as the roast profile. By seeing the beans via a transparent window on the coffee bag, consumers can draw their own conclusions independent of the coffee roaster. This helps them make more informed decisions, which leads to greater customer satisfaction.

Transparent windows can be added to coffee bags made from a variety of sustainable materials, including kraft and rice paper, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and polylactic acid (PLA).

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How convenient, recyclable coffee packaging boosts sales

The simple act of designing your coffee packaging with your consumer in mind can help boost brand loyalty and repeat sales. Finding ways to lower the barriers between convenience and the consumption of high-quality coffee has become a focus for many coffee businesses.

For instance, research shows the rise of on-the-go lifestyles has left consumers wanting the stimulating effects of coffee. This has led to an increase in the popularity of ready-to-drink coffee. Notably, in 2019, the global ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee market was valued at $22.44 billion, with a projection to reach $42.36 billion by 2027

Packaging is essential for keeping coffee safe in its journey from roastery to cup. It allows for safe transport, preserves flavours and aromas, prolongs shelf life, and, if processed correctly, reduces waste. There’s no doubt that researchers and packaging manufacturers will keep improving solutions with the aim of offering 100% sustainable coffee bags. 

At MTPak Coffee, we offer a range of fully recyclable coffee bags with one layer of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and one of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH). These function as a barrier to oxygen, while being completely sustainable. 

Our recyclable coffee packaging uses just two layers, compared to the three or four in many coffee bags around the world. This means we use less energy during manufacturing while making the packaging easier for roasters and consumers alike to dispose of sustainably.

For more information, contact our team.

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Maira Kanai-Nasir
Maira Kanai-Nasir

Discovering specialty coffee whilst working in Australia, Maira has previously worked in Specialty Coffee as a trainer and coffee product buyer for many years. She currently resides in Dubai, UAE working as a specialty coffee writer, with a strong passion for all things coffee.

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