At Garage we have undergone a few big changes in the way we operate and get beans to your door. As we have grown more popular online and in store, and the demand for our roasts have gone up, we decided that having a sustainable source of packaging was very important to us as we put more out into the world.
We looked hard at what the difference between biodegradable, compostable and recyclable is and what the best option for us was.
Looking at compostable and biodegradable packaging we realised that the market just isn’t there at the moment for coffee packaging to actually be sustainable in this format.
The materials used for all the components in a coffee bag are currently difficult to source to be completely biodegradable - most importantly the valve that releases gas to keep it fresh and tasting its best. You end up with a mixed product of recyclable, compostable and biodegradable materials. While there are options for sourcing a valve and bag separately, to achieve an ideal product, there are no options for a single source for both bag and valve, and we don’t have the facilities currently to do it ourselves.
Using the term compostable can be a minefield of regulations and mis-information. Often what isn’t made clear is that compostable doesn’t mean you can just put this in your home compost bin- it actually has to be sent to a special industrial composter/shredder to be dealt with. Currently the UK just doesn’t have the facilities to deal with large quantities of compostable material and they are few and far between, this means you could find your compostable items end up in the general landfill anyway. This greatly changes the decomposition time from 90 days to up to 10 years, not to mention that if you do compost properly this composting method reduces to a whole lot of micro-plastics rather than a usable or harmless resource.
Recycling has changed and adapted of late and seems like the most responsible way for us to package as it’s a resource that can be reused in different formats. Most recycling packaging for coffee bags is category 4 which is remade into plastic furniture and floor tiles when disposed of correctly.
In the end we decided that a fully recyclable product is the best for everyone and is easy for you to dispose of at home in a sustainable way, that will be used again and again. As most of our bags are already recyclable and feedback has been positive about its ease of disposal -this means we don’t need you to remove any of the parts to be disposed of separately
All components of our new packaging range will be disposable using at home recycling services, so we can ensure you’re getting the most from your coffee and doing the best for the environment whether you’re ordering 250g all the way to 2.5Kg. All our bags - whether it has a valve, zipper or both - are all category 4 recyclable, meaning it can go in a main recycling bin with the peace of mind that it’s going to the right place. Also, if you buy our retail boxes that come with the cardboard outer and bag inside, the box and labelling is fully recyclable through the paper recycle.
Hopefully as both Garage and the coffee world evolves, so will the packaging opportunities as well. We hope to have a fully home biodegradable and compostable bag in the future and will always be on the lookout for any new advances. We are always open for conversation about this, and try to be transparent as possible about the choices we make that have a bigger effect on the world around us.