Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., Waterbury, VT, has revamped the shape and structure of stand-up bags for Newman's Own Organics coffees, including a new ingredient in the multilayer construction: polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from corn.
Supplied by Fres-Co® System USA, Inc., the bag film is 48-ga PET/28-ga foil/80-ga PLA/250-ga linear low-density polyethylene.
PLA from NatureWorks LLC comprises one layer of the four-layer structure, or 19.4% of the packaging. The PLA replaces 48-ga PET in the previous structure.
According to GMCR, the PLA "helps reduce the environmental impact of the packaging while maintaining the necessary barriers to moisture and light to keep the coffee at its freshest."
The film is provided to GMCR as rollstock and run on two G-14 Fres-Co baggers that produce Corner Seal® bags; according to Fres-Co, such bags eliminate the seal down the back panel and stand up straighter for a better presentation.
Newman's Own Organics president Nell Newman says, "I love the look of the new packaging and think it will draw more coffee devotees to our products so they can experience what a distinctive and varied selection of coffees we have."
The changes include:
1. New shape—a shorter, deeper bag fits better on-shelf and is functionally easier for consumers to access, according to GMCR spokesperson Sandy Yulen
2. Standardized to a 10 oz-bag; before, the packs were a mix of 10- and 12-oz bags
3. New graphics include changing from a half-green, half-brown background to a bright copper color
Graphics are the same as the previous film: reverse-gravure-printed in eight colors on the PET. “Although the graphic elements are basically similar, the bags are higher-quality looking, brighter, and more likely to stand out on shelf,” says Yulen. The redesign, which includes a new "sunburst" element on the bag back, was done in-house, she notes.
PLA, 'green' content not promoted
The coffees do not carry any indication of the PLA content nor this move toward sustainability, reports Yulen. GMCR felt it was better to focus on the coffee attributes because of the limited amount of package real estate rather than on this small step to make its packaging more environmentally friendly, she adds.
Reintroduced in summer 2007, the line of seven whole bean and ground coffees sells nationwide for up to $7.99.
More enviro changes are brewing: A line of GMCR's own Single Origin coffees in six varieties debuted this fall in a similar PLA-containing structure. According to the September 17 issue of Packaging World's Sustainable Outlook newsletter, GMCR is working with Fres-co to research the feasibility of replacing as many as two of the four bag layers with PLA.
However, more recently, the vendor indicated it was a bit premature to talk about another PLA layer. "We are awaiting further developments from our [PLA] supplier," says a Fres-Co spokesperson. "GMCR is excited about the new structure, and is encouraging us to continue to work towards a fully sustainable material. Meanwhile, we are keeping our eye on other renewable resources that may be available a bit faster."
Still, says the spokesperson, “I expect many more coffee customers to come online [with PLA] during the next year.”
For more on Fres-Co's view of using PLA, see sidebar, PLA: A converter’s viewpoint.