Recycling & Coffee Packaging: May 2020
Over the last year, we’ve been working on finding ways in which we can reduce our impact on the environment. One of the areas where we can make improvements is the way we order and package our coffee. Our customers tell us they want their coffee to stay fresh for as long as possible, and that’s a really important consideration of the way we choose our packaging, but we also take our environmental responsibilities seriously, so we want to avoid single-use plastic and non-recyclable packaging wherever possible.
With that in mind, we’ve been exploring a huge range of options, it’s a real eye opener when you look at coffee bean packaging solutions currently on the market that can offer our customers the freshness and longevity our customers have come to expect from our coffee.
We enlisted the help of Will Parr (www.studioparr.co.uk) who handles the majority of our design and branding with the brief of building on what he’d previously created for us and giving it a refresh. We knew we wanted to retain some familiarity so decided to keep with the duck and give him a little more character. The size of the labels were previously an issue and the clarity of information on them, so we hope to have made these clearer now. Once the design side was finalised the next task was to source the bags with the environment in mind.
Our deep dive into recycling found there is currently a distinct lack of suitable packaging on the market that is ‘widely recycled ‘ in Mid Sussex – or in fact the UK. Many products marketed as technically “recyclable” will in practice go straight to landfill because there are so few facilities that will accept and recycle mixed-material packaging and many types of plastics. So we’ve had to make some careful decisions, and we believe we have come up with the right solution that that meets the needs of our business, our customers and our environment.
For our retail bags, we will now be providing a reusable bag that is rolled down and fastened by a tin tie. This type of packaging keeps the product fresh using a one way valve, and allows the customer to bring the bag back instore to refill with beans or ground coffee*. We’ll no longer use a heat seal on our bags, because once the tops of the bags are cut off, they are rendered unusable after a few times, whereas our new packaging can be used time after time. In this way, we’re working to eliminate the single use nature of our current packaging for our 250g bags and ensure they have a lower environmental footprint. We are also happy to announce that for every bag that is reused we will donate 10p back to our partner farmers in Colombia to reinvest back into their farming practices.
For our wholesale 1kg bags**, we needed a different solution. We use a great deal more of these, and the way they are used isn’t the same as our retail bags. For example, each bag can be handled by a number of different staff at our customers outlets, not all of whom may know to bring the bag back for refill. We also see our wholesale customers very regularly, which has enabled us to choose a solution that works best for them. We will now be supplying our wholesale customers with a plastic 1kg package made of LDPE grade 4 plastic. This type of plastic is technically 100% recyclable, but in Mid Sussex there are very limited facilities, so we are helping them to meet their own recycling targets by building a collection service into our services. We will now collect used bags *** directly from our wholesale customers on a weekly basis, reuse them until they are no longer fit for purpose, and recycle them ourselves once they reach the end of their usable life.
This collection and recycling of our bags is a big undertaking for us. When searching the market, we found plenty packaging manufacturers offering packaging which is “fully recyclable”, but in reality, our home council of Mid Sussex (where the majority of our customers are based) do not collect LDPE. We contacted many recyclers in the region, including the company who currently collect our recycling from the café, and none of them presently handle the LDPE . Keen not to give up , we enlisted the help of a recycling specialist who connected us with a revolutionary plastic recycling company which is developing the UK’s first recycling plants willing and able to take in LDPE. It uses a process known as chemical recycling to reduce plastic waste to its primary “chemicals”, which means our plastic coffee bags will be transformed into new plastic products and have a new future life. We are now one of the first businesses in Sussex to be collecting and sending our LDPE off to be recycled.
We hope you’ll join us on our journey to reduce our environmental impact, and yours too, by bringing in your coffee bags to refill and reuse. Please talk to any of our staff at Lindfield Coffee Works if you’d like to know more about how we are building environmental responsibility into the heart of our business.
If you are a wholesale partner please do not hesitate to contact us for more details about how to return the bags to us via the usual routes.
*At the time of writing this the world was a very different place . For the time being we are sadly unable to accept retail bags being returned / reused until further notice due to the ongoing covid threat. If you do have retail bags if you can please do keep hold of them and we will accept them to be returned and reused for you once its safe to do so
**For our retail customers ordering coffee for home use in our kilo bags and wish to recycle the bags please check your local councils recycling centres if they accept the material . If not many Tesco & Sainsbury’s recycling points do accept this too
***If you are a wholesale customer we will collect the bags from you on a Wednesday during our normal delivery . Or if you have your own recycling system in place then please recycle the bags in this way