How to Switch to Sustainable Coffee Packaging (8 Key Points)

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Your business can switch from traditional to sustainable coffee packaging within eight easy steps. Open this article to learn how!

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Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Packoi Team

Consumers across all businesses, including the coffee industry, prefer sustainable packaging. However, making that shift has always been challenging for coffee producers and sellers.

These businesses have to ensure that sustainable packaging preserves freshness and protects against elements like moisture and higher temperatures.

To help you out, this article will talk about some other tips related to switching to sustainable packaging for coffee. It’ll also talk about the impact coffee packaging can have.

What Can Coffee Be Packaged In?

Sustainable Coffee Packaging

Packaging for coffee is more than just a way to attract buyers. It is mainly for the preservation of flavor and quality and extending shelf life.

Thus, coffee producers have explored several ways to best pack coffee beans. Here are some of them:

  • Glass jars
  • Paper bags
  • Coffee pouch
  • Reusable coffee tins
  • Tin or aluminum cans
  • Plastic bags and pods or capsules

The most ideal type depends on the type of coffee beans and their purpose. For instance, if your customer will consume the coffee immediately, you can simply wrap it in paper. 

However, if you have to stock the coffee, you’ll need something that offers more protection than paper. Thus, you may consider coffee tins, plastic-wrapped products, or glass jars.

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The Problem with Traditional Coffee Packaging

Unfortunately, most traditional packaging options are not sustainable. Thus, more consumers prefer market sellers that already offer sustainable packaging, even at a higher price.

But what exactly is wrong with the traditional packaging options? Let’s discuss them:

1. Environmental Impact of Non-Recyclable Materials 

Among the traditional packaging options, plastics are the ones that are most apparently damaging to the environment. They do not decompose easily and can leach harmful chemicals into their surroundings.

However, even options that seem eco-friendly aren’t really or always sustainable. For instance, many would think glass is good because it’s recyclable.

However, because of the fragility of glass, it is transported with a lot of waste, like bubble wrap. Thus, overall, it isn’t that sustainable.

2. The Footprint of the Coffee Supply Chain 

Carbon footprint refers to the amount of harmful gases that result from an action. For instance, to produce a single pack of coffee, gases like carbon dioxide will be produced.

For instance, coffee consumed in Finland was found to have a footprint of between 0.27 to 0.70 kg CO2 eq/l. It’s ideal to keep it as close to zero as possible. 

One way to achieve that zero-footprint goal is by making the packaging sustainable. Non-environmental-friendly packaging like plastic increases the packaging footprint compared to more sustainable alternatives, which include paper, cans, or glass.

Benefits of Sustainable Coffee Packaging

Shifting to eco-friendly coffee packaging requires investment from the business. You will need to set aside time, effort, and money for the conception and implementation. 

So, with so much being put on the line, what is in it for you and your company? These are the benefits of implementing sustainable packaging:

Benefits of Sustainable Coffee Packaging

  • Aid the Environment – The primary advantage of sustainable packing is the positive impact your business can leave on the world. For instance, if your packaging reduces your footprint, then you contribute fewer harmful gases that could lead to the worsening of climate change or global warming. 

  • Resonate with Consumers – More consumers are becoming conscious of their footprint, and are willing to ditch non-sustainable products for eco-friendly options. Thus, if you want to expand your customer base, you will have to resonate or connect with them, and sustainable packaging is one way to do that. 

  • Provide Premium Experience – As mentioned, more customers are becoming eco-friendly. They’re even willing to pay higher prices for such an option! Therefore, if you want to provide your customers with a premium experience, aesthetic yet sustainable packaging is one way to achieve that. 

What Is the Best Sustainable Packaging for Coffee?

Several types of environmentally friendly coffee packaging have been developed. Each comes with its pros and cons, which you will learn about in this section.

We’ll discuss those pros and cons, along with other essential information about sustainable packaging, in this section of the article.

image 140

3 Types of Sustainable Coffee Packaging

These are the most sustainable packaging options for coffee products:

  • Compostable Bags – Compostable coffee packaging is designed so that you can dispose of them in an industrial or home compost pit. After some time (either a couple of months or a few years), the coffee bag will decompose and turn into soil without leaching harmful chemicals.

  • Biodegradable Materials – Packaging that easily decomposes, even without a home compost heap. Therefore, compostable bags are a type of biodegradable packaging material.

  • Reusable Containers – The packaging after the coffee has been consumed can be used for other purposes. For instance, consumers can reuse or recycle a glass jar after the coffee has been thoroughly consumed.

Unfortunately, 100% or fully biodegradable, reusable, or compostable packaging options are still being developed. Thus, you might often see packaging choices that specify certain parts to not be sustainable (e.g., the degassing valve is not biodegradable). 

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Compostable Coffee Bags vs. Recyclable Coffee Bags

You can also refer to this table comparing compostable and recyclable coffee bags. It showcases unique information about these sustainable coffee bags that may incentivize you to switch:

FeaturesCompostable Coffee BagsRecyclable Coffee Bags
PurposeThis packaging type is intended for disposal through a compost pit, where it will decompose to produce healthy and safe soil.This packaging type is intended to be used after serving its main purpose of protecting the coffee product.
Type/sHome compostable (can be disposed through compost pits at home)

Industrial compostable (composting or decomposition only occurs under specific conditions or processes, usually requiring specific equipment or routines)
DisposalRemove non-compostable components, like degassing valves, before disposing of these bags in a compost pit.Remove non-biodegradable components, like plastic lining, before disposing of them in a biodegradable bin or trash can.
Do they require special waste disposal facilities?Yes (for industrial compostable bags)Yes (depending on how the packaging is to be recycled)
ExamplesPaper bagsMetal cans
Glass jars

8 Key Points to Become a Sustainable Coffee Packaging

So, have you decided on shifting to eco-friendly coffee packaging for your business? If you are, here are some key points or steps you can follow:

1. Develop a Sustainable Design

Sustainable designs aren’t just eco-friendly; they are also practical and efficient. For instance, a completely blank paper coffee bag may be the most earth-friendly, as there are no wasted inks. 

However, it is not the most efficient design. Customers won’t learn about the coffee through blank packaging. 

Therefore, a good concession is to opt for a minimalist design. It uses less ink (therefore, less waste), but is still able to relay crucial information.

2. Choose the Right Materials

As evident above, there are many choices for eco-friendly materials. For higher sustainability, you must choose the right material according to your business.

For instance, you can opt for biodegradable or compostable coffee pouches for easy decomposition. However, it may not be the most durable option.

You can also choose glass as packaging. However, if that option is too expensive or the supplier is too far away, It is also not the most flexible package.

image 141

Other choices include pouches with two layers or one high barrier. They are ideal for extending the life of your coffee beans or products.

With so many available materials, carefully weigh your choices. While doing so, also consider the disposal options in your customers’ community.

For instance, you should not go for industrial compostable materials if your area does not have the facility for composting, recycling, or packaging waste.

3. Avoid Plastic Where Possible

While choosing the right material, avoid including plastic in the options. Although plastic is more durable and affordable than other options, it is not eco-friendly. 

Instead, plastic packaging can end up anywhere. Then, it can cause harm to animals, leach chemicals into the environment, and accumulate as waste. 

4. Minimize Carbon Footprint

Every packaging option will contribute to the coffee product’s footprint. To find the best or most eco-friendly packaging, you can find packaging with a minimal footprint.

For instance, you have the option between a paper-based coffee bag and conventional plastic. You can compare the footprint of either option and implement the one with the lowest footprint. 

5. Consider End-of-Life Impact

End-of-life impact refers to the final fate or destination of the coffee bag. For instance, the end-of-life impact of standard plastic packaging is to end up in a landfill or another garbage disposal facility. 

paper-based coffee bag

Meanwhile, the end-of-life of recyclable packaging like glass jars is to be repurposed. For example, after using them for storing coffee, recycling them to contain other stuff like sugar, pencils, more coffee, and others should be recommended. 

6. Work with Sustainable Suppliers

Most of the time, coffee sellers like you do not make packaging from scratch. Instead, you purchase from a supplier.

To get sustainable packaging, you’ll need to work with a sustainable supplier. They can best inform you on the processes that led to the packaging production, how the carbon footprint was reduced, and other such complex aspects. 

Sustainable companies are also best able to provide alternative packaging options. For instance, if your first choice of eco-friendly packaging is not practical, they may propose better-suited but still sustainable packaging. 

7. Look for Certified Packaging

Several packaging companies may claim to be sustainable or offer eco-friendly packaging options. So, how would you know which one of them is authentic?

eco-friendly coffee packaging

A way to do so is to seek certifications like those given by Fair Trade or the Rainforest Alliance. Businesses that have certified packaging are more reliable than those without.

8. Consider a Subscription Service

Once you have a great design, optimal material, and a reliable supplier, inquire if they have a subscription service.

Such a service may allow you to fulfill packaging orders more efficiently in the future. It may also be more economical, as regular bulk orders are preferred over small batches. 

The subscription may also keep you updated on sustainability developments. For instance, you may get the first news on the company’s sustainability design initiatives. 


In finding the best sustainable packaging for your coffee business, there is no one-size-fits-all option. For instance, some businesses may find paper coffee pouches to be best suited for them.

However, such packaging may not be ideal for your specialty coffee products. Therefore, it is best to carefully evaluate your business’s packaging needs and analyze all the sustainable packaging options you have. 

Find the Best Sustainable Packaging with Packoi 

It’s also wise to consult a trusted supplier, like Packoi! We will guide you through the best packaging solutions that we believe match your brand and goals.

As you work with us, you not only get access to high-quality custom packaging services, but You also pay more attention to your business’s other important tasks as we deal with all of your packaging troubles. 

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Hey there, I’m Shelly!

I really enjoy the packaging and printing industry because my work makes my clients’ products more beautiful and enjoyable. If you have any questions about packaging and printing, feel free to contact me!

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