01 Mar Getting our compost on!
Here at Glen Lyon we’ve always felt very strongly about the importance of running a zero waste business but right from the beginning we kept on coming up against the stumbling block of how to keep our coffee fresh without using those foil lined composite bags complete with plastic degassing valves that the whole world and their dog seemed to pack their coffee in. Sure, these traditional coffee bags were great at keeping everyone’s coffee fresh for months after roasting but at what price? The composite nature of the bags makes them practically impossible to dispose of by any other means than landfill yet the lined paper bags available at the time would only keep coffee fresh for few days before staling would inevitably set in. With the choice of quality versus sustainability I’m afraid we did what pretty much every other roaster did at the time and opted for the bag that kept our coffee fresh and tasting great. But we remained hopeful that the technology would develop out there which would mean we could find a way forward that promoted quality as well as environmental responsibility.
Three years ago we worked with a German manufacturing company to design a compostable kilo bag with which we have ever since packed the majority of our wholesale espresso in. The plant based lining and tin tie sealers are ideal for keeping our roasted coffee fresh for a couple of weeks after roast date which is a great solution for cafes who generally get through their coffee delivery within a week of us sending it to them. We love to tailor our supply to our wholesale partners needs so the coffee they receive is always fresh (and, yes, rested!) but never stale. Since launching this initiative we are proud to say that we have prevented over 15,000 bags going to landfill.
But the problem for our 250g retail bags remained. Plastic fully recyclable coffee bags have come on the market in the last couple of years but this was a route that we decided we didn’t want to go down. Let’s face it every single bit of plastic that is manufactured remains on this planet indefinitely and even with the best of intentions it’s thought that only about 8% of plastic actually ends up getting recycled. Added to the fact that plastic is also a product the oil and petrochemical industry we felt convinced that the true zero waste option of compostable packaging was the only right choice for us at Glen Lyon.
Brilliantly in the last few years fully compostable air tight bags complete with the essential degassing valve all made from PLA have been developed that preserve the quality and freshness of our coffee. PLA (Polylactide) is a bio-based, compostable material made from renewable plant material (starches such as corn husks, rice straw and wheat straw). Better still, producing PLA uses 65% less energy than conventional plastics, generates 68% fewer greenhouse gases and contains no toxins. Now this is definitely a bag we can get behind and we are super proud to be able to say that all our 250g bags are made from paper and PLA and are TUV Austria home compost certified. And we didn’t stop there we’ve even made sure that the stickers that go on the front of our bags are compostable too (including the adhesive). It’s been one heck of a journey friends but we got there in the end.
If you don’t have access to a good home composter then we are very happy for you to send any used bags back to us or drop them off at our roastery from where we have a twice monthly industrial composting collection.