Packaging is such a challenging issue. We used to use the same valved bags that most other coffee sellers use, but after looking at a stack of coffee packed up and ready to go out to customers and realising that all of those bags would be in the bin soon as the multi-layered bags can’t be recycled, we started to search for more environmentally and socially responsible packaging. It’s become something of an obsession!
Initially we used paper. It was easily accessible and recyclable. We had some concerns about coffee freshness, but did an experiment and found that as long as the coffee was used quickly or transferred to alternative packaging then for whole bean paper worked fine to send coffee out in.
However a significant number of our customers buy ground coffee, and this doesn’t stay fresh for long at all. By the time coffee has arrived by post, in 1-2 days, most of the coffee oils seeps through the bag rendering the paper no longer recyclable (although it can be composted) and the coffee no longer fresh. Food waste is also a huge problem and we don’t want people throwing coffee away because it went stale in the post.
We’ve sampled pretty much every supposedly environmentally friendly coffee packaging on the market and found most of it unsuitable. A lot of compostable packaging is PLA (poly lactic acid) based, made from corn starch. This material requires industrial composting which most people don’t have access to so we rejected it. Then we found Natureflex, a compostable material which is certified as home compostable (and confirmed by us and others in home testing).
Natureflex is made form wood pulp, similar to paper, but it has a lower carbon footprint, and is much lighter weight (6g compared to 30g for a similar sized bag) which reduces the carbon impact of transporting it to us and the overall package weight of our coffee.
Crucially, unlike paper it provides a good air and moisture barrier which keeps our coffee fresher than paper.
Of course not everybody can compost at home. If you have a garden you can bury the compostable bag in soil and it will break down (please don’t do this in a public setting as that is littering), or you can return it to us and we’ll compost it for you.
If you wish, you can request paper bags via the order comments box at checkout. However we don’t recommend this for ground coffee and we don’t take any responsibility for coffee spoiling during transit. If you opt for this you’ll need to ensure you transfer the coffee to an airtight container immediately upon receipt.
We’re always looking in to new developments in the packaging world in search of the best option available. What we use now may not be what we use in a couple of years time as things change and more information is made available. The most sustainable packaging of all is some you already have and can re-use many times. If you have a coffee roaster locally to you we encourage you to contact them to ask if you can get your own packaging refilled by them.
If you’re local to us in Nottingham, you can refill your own packaging directly with us via requesting this at the checkout stage. You can also refill with our coffee from Shop Zero in Nottingham City Centre (sent them in refillable pouches) or Re:Source in Norwich (sent to them in paper).