Here at MCC - we’re all about bringing the most delicious, highest quality coffee to you at home. Being serious about coffee means being serious about the environment where coffee grows - which is why we’ve taken several steps to make our operation more sustainable.
The way that we do business means we don’t really need to use traditional coffee packaging. Standard coffee bags were designed with a valve and foil lining to allow coffee to sit on a shelf at a grocery store for years in full sunlight without rupturing or damaging the coffee. But since we ship our coffee the day it's roasted and club members open our coffees 4 to 6 days later to brew, it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to use a bag designed for long-term shelf storage. We have the freedom to do things differently.
Traditional mixed construction coffee bags - usually some combination of foil, paper, and plastic - are impossible to recycle because of their layered construction. Their valves and zip-closures are plastic-heavy, and "compostable" versions almost always require industrial facilities that next to no cities in the US have available - if they actually compost at all. The long and short of this is that most coffee packaging - compostable or not - ends up in land-fills. We wanted to find a way to increase the recyclability of our packaging and cut down on plastic headed to landfills even if it doesn't get recycled.
Another part of the puzzle is fuel consumption. Any business taking part in high-volume shipping is responsible for fuel used by delivery trucks and planes, and the resulting greenhouse gases. We are shipping a large number of packages with each roast, so the overall weight and volume of our packaging comes into play. We wanted to find a way to minimize the size and weight of our packages, so that delivery vehicles can transport them as efficiently as possible while still fitting through your letter slot.
Our new packaging utilizes a vac-sealed pouch and a recyclable outer mailer to achieve these goals. It may look a little space-age compared to a traditional coffee bag - but this new pouch uses about 50% less plastic than our previous multi-layer bag - and this time it's recyclable. We encourage you to read more about plastic film recycling here - it's a bit more complicated than just using your recycling bin, but if it's available in your area it's a really great way to make an impact!
Our new packaging is also lighter-weight and much more space efficient than the bulky cardboard boxes we were using previously - allowing our packages to take up less space and reduce weight on delivery vehicles. Buy cutting just 2oz of packaging from each shipment, we can save around 3000lbs of CO2 per year!
It's popular, but for short-term storage it doesn't really do much. The main function the valve serves is to keep coffee bags from rupturing as gas emitted by the roasted beans builds up over time. Since we're shipping everything fresh and our members are brewing fresh - our beans don't sit in the packaging long enough to cause any problems. This lets us skip the plastic-heavy valve, which even on many "compostable" coffee bags needs to be removed and trashed anyways.
Well, this only works because our subscription is so fresh. If you stacked these pouches on a shelf in a grocery store for months, they would go slack as the beans off-gas and look less cool. And we aren't the only coffee people doing this! We actually got the idea from some of the high-end green coffee beans we roast, which come vacuum-packaged in 30kg blocks, air-shipped from origin in cardboard boxes. It's a very space-efficient way to ship coffee beans, and solves the need for a moisture-barrier with less material overall.
Sustainability is an on-going practice, and we're always looking for ways to make business decisions that benefit the environment. Some of the big (and small) things we're doing include:
- Roasting our coffees on a Loring S15, which utilizes ~80% less fuel than traditional gas roasters while producing less greenhouse gases and particulate matter.
- Donating all our coffee chaff and jute sacks to local organic gardens.
- Repurposing as much material as possible. From re-using GrainPro bags as roastery trash bags, to using our roaster's massive shipping crate as wall dividers, we try to generate as little waste with our physical operations as possible.