How to create 100% recyclable coffee boxes

Tori Taylor
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July 1, 2024
recyclable coffee boxes, 100% recyclable coffee boxes, coffee boxes, custom coffee boxes, custom printed coffee boxes, kraft coffee boxes, custom coffee packaging, custom printed coffee packaging, Torque Coffee

Competition between brands in the specialty coffee market is skyrocketing. Research shows that the global coffee roaster market is projected to reach $3.18 billion by 2029. To stand out, coffee businesses must find innovative ways to engage with their customers, which have seen more brands invest in recyclable coffee boxes. Commonly used for subscription services, blind tastings, or gift bundles, coffee boxes offer additional protection for the beans. 

Beyond this, coffee boxes provide additional space for customisation, branding, and product information. Additionally, customers often perceive custom coffee boxes as more luxurious products, which can help justify a higher price point. 

A 2023 survey found that recycling is extremely common across several consumer groups, while home composting is most popular among Gen Z. However, the survey also found that two-thirds of consumers have little to no confidence that they know which product packaging is recyclable, while 17% find it difficult or very difficult to know if something is recyclable. 

These results highlight a long-standing gap in consumer knowledge and education about sustainability, specifically around recycling and compostable products. So, how can brands create 100% recyclable coffee boxes to appeal to consumers and reduce waste?

To find out, I spoke to Andy Newbom, the cofounder of Torque Coffees, and Inna Zamikhovsk, the owner of Black Hat Coffee

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The keys to creating recyclable coffee boxes

In order 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 consumption and air and water pollution. It also offers a sustainable solution to regular waste streams by lowering input into municipal landfills.

Businesses can significantly reduce their environmental footprint by using recyclable, biodegradable, or renewable materials. Recyclable materials include glass, metals such as aluminium, kraft paper, bagasse paper, corrugated cardboard, and more recently, certain plastics known as bioplastics. The term ‘bioplastic’ covers a broad spectrum of materials. It can refer to materials that are at least partially made from natural and non-fossil components and are biodegradable.

One brand that has successfully invested in 100% recyclable coffee boxes is Torque Coffee. The brand has managed to combine its retail coffee box and shipping box into a straightforward package to reduce materials by 50%. 

Owner Andy explains that as a brand, Torque Coffee has always been obsessed with reducing waste, improving efficiency, and reducing its negative environmental impact.

“We designed our packaging from the ground up specifically for e-commerce and shipping to use 100% recycled paper products,” he explains. Torque Coffee uses no stickers or tape, investing only in compostable shipping labels that are easy for consumers to recycle or compost at home. 

Essentially, the brand’s subscription boxes comprise a coffee box, an inner coffee bag, and a compostable shipping label. By stripping it down to the bare essentials, Torque Coffee offers a subscription box that is 100% plastic-free, 100% plant-based, and 100% home-compostable. Beyond this, the brand’s coffee bags are also plastic-free, plant-based, fully biodegradable, and compostable, from the one-way valve to the reclosable zipper and label.

“We wanted what you saw on our site to be exactly what you got in your hand,” Andy notes. “Zero extra wasted packaging. Just purity of function. Fantastically sustainable, ecologically beneficial, and pleasing to the eye.”

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Exploring the benefits of recyclable coffee boxes

For Torque Coffee, the reduction in packaging allowed the brand to lower the cost of coffee shipments by $.25. “This means we were able to pay our farmers that extra $.25 a lb,” Andy explains. 

“Immediately after launching our coffee box, we were able to buy our first African coffees and pay the producers an extra  $.75 a lb on top of what they were already paid for their coffee.” 

Black Hat Coffee is based in Germany and exclusively offers carefully selected coffee beans with a minimum of 85 SCA points. Owner Inna explains that the brand’s decision to switch to custom coffee boxes was born out of strategic branding and a desire to tell consumers a story. 

“One motivation was the intention to differentiate ourselves from other specialty coffee companies,” Inna explains. “Another was that we wanted packaging that has a certain surprise effect,” she says, adding that coffee packaging is not usually vertical.

Inna believes that vertical boxes are more common for luxurious items, such as perfumes, candles, and tech items. By packaging its product in vertical coffee boxes and subconsciously linking the packaging to items of luxury, Black Hat can position itself as a premium brand.

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What else should brands consider?

When customising coffee boxes, there are a few factors to consider, starting with material. It is important to invest in packaging materials that align with the brand’s values and the quality of the coffee. Recyclable or compostable options will be a big hit with environmentally conscious consumers and can show that your business is doing its part to protect the environment. 

Kraft paper coffee boxes are, by far, the most environmentally friendly packaging materials. The main reason for this is due to the material being entirely composed of organic and natural materials. What’s more, kraft paper can also be made using recycled content, as fibres can be reused to produce more kraft paper.

At MTPak Coffee, we understand the importance of creating a memorable customer experience. We offer corrugated coffee boxes made from recycled cardboard. With their high level of strength, durability, and weather resistance, coupled with our wide range of size options, these coffee boxes are the perfect solution to support your business. 

Our talented design team is on hand to help customise the interior of coffee boxes, as well as the coffee bags that go inside. We have 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. These will fit perfectly into your coffee subscription 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. 

Images courtesy of Torque Coffees and Black Hat Coffee

For more information on custom printed, 100% recyclable coffee boxes, contact our team

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Tori Taylor
Tori Taylor

Victoria is a highly experienced content creator, writer, and editor based out of South Africa. With the experience gained by working in newsrooms and writing for lifestyle magazines, she is now focussed on creating insightful and relatable content for the specialty coffee community.

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