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Compostable coffee bags make North American debut

Two North American coffee roasting companies have launched fully compostable coffee bags to support their eco-friendly commitments.
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Two North American coffee roasting companies have launched fully compostable coffee bags to support their eco-friendly commitments. In Canada, Pistol & Burnes is using a three-layer, bottom-gusseted bag for whole bean coffee, while in the U.S., McCullagh Coffee has adopted a monolayer pillow pack for its short shelf-life ground coffee used in office coffee machines. Both bags use cellulose-based NatureFlex™ film from Innovia. The material is made from wood pulp sourced from managed plantations and has a renewable biobased content of 95% by weight of material.


The Pistol & Burnes application is a tri-layer structure of 35# paper laminated on both sides to NatureFlex NVS heat-sealable film, to provide barrier (inner) and scuff-resistance (outer). The bag is converted by Genpak, and is printed in four colors on a Fischer & Krecke flexo press from Bobst.

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GenPak began collaborating with Innovia in 2011 to develop a compostable bag construction with sufficient deadfold and barrier properties, after Pistol & Burnes approached them about the feasibility of a compostable package for their Farmer First brand. “We recommended NatureFlex to Pistol & Burnes for several reasons,” explains GenPak development manager Bill Reilly. “First and foremost, the film performs well technically, having high barrier properties and good seal integrity that enhances shelf life, keeping oxygen out and aroma in—very important for coffee packaging. Secondly, it is perfectly aligned with the ethos of their Fair Trade, organic Farmer First brand.”


The 1-lb bag of whole bean coffee is marketed on the front panel with the copy, “Compostable Bio-Bag,” and on the back it sports a BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) logo and directions to the company Web site for more information on the bag. Reilly says this information is sufficient for Canadians, who regularly compost.


For McCullagh Coffee, a much simpler construction was required for its Ecoverde 100% Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee for its Office Coffee Service program. The pillow pack is constructed using transparent, heat-sealable NatureFlex NE, surface-printed with a Videojet machine. “In applications such as this, where fast product turnover requires a much shorter shelf life, a single mono web structure is one option,” explains Innovia account director Christopher Tom.


These two applications may be just the first entrants in what may be a huge market for cellulose material, notes Innovia market analyst Julie Bennett. “The film has a great gas barrier, which is why it works so well for these applications.”


“In the past, one of the challenges with developing compostable coffee packaging was the need for a degassing valve for ground coffee, and there were no compostable valves on the market,” she adds. “But there are a lot of developments taking place. I expect you will see a lot of growth in this area in the future.”

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