Perk Up Your Recycling Game: A Sustainable Approach to Your Morning Cup of Coffee

As the winning "zero waste" chef, writer and activist, Anne-Marie Bonneau once said, "We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly."

Recycling is a powerful tool in the fight against waste and pollution, but it can be challenging to implement perfectly. One material that can be particularly tricky when it comes to recycling is coffee bags. While some coffee bags are made from materials that can be recycled, others are made from a combination of materials that are not easily recyclable. This can create confusion and lead to contamination of the recycling stream, which can be harmful to the environment.

Coffee bags are typically made of a combination of materials, which can make them difficult to recycle. For example, some coffee bags are made from a combination of plastic and aluminium foil, which cannot be separated easily for recycling. Other coffee bags are made from a mix of paper, plastic, and metal, which also makes them difficult to recycle. Because of these complex materials, most domestic curb side recycling programs do not accept coffee bags.

When non-recyclable coffee bags are mixed with recyclable waste, they can clog up machinery at recycling facilities, causing breakdowns and delays. They can also contaminate other materials, making them unsuitable for recycling. 

It's worth noting that coffee bags are not the only coffee-related item that poses a challenge for recycling. Coffee pods, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, are also a cause for concern. Most coffee pods are made from a combination of plastic and aluminium, which makes them difficult to recycle. In fact, it's estimated that only a small percentage of coffee pods are actually recycled, with the vast majority ending up in landfills. 

While there are some recycling programs for coffee pods, they are not widely available and can be difficult to access. One solution is to switch to using a refillable or reusable coffee pod, which can be filled with your own ground coffee and used over and over again. This not only reduces waste, but it can also save money in the long run.

Here's an eye opening video from Future Proof explaining the brutal truth behind many of the specialty recycling programmes offered by the big brands.

So what can we do to reduce the amount of single use coffee bags or coffee pods ending up in landfill? I guess that cutting down on coffee consumption isn't even an option that we can consider. Overall, we must consider the environmental impact of our daily habits and make small changes where we can. 

One eco friendly option is to have your local coffee roaster refill your own container that you reuse on each purchase. 

A more convenient and eco-friendly option for storing and transporting your coffee beans is to find a roaster that uses recyclable coffee bags that can be recycled with your other household waste. These bags are made from materials such as paper and plastic that are widely accepted by most curb side or domestic recycling programs. They are designed to be recycled along with other household materials, which makes them a convenient and easy option for those who want to reduce their environmental impact.

recyclable coffee bag

While many roasters in South Africa choose the single use bags, some coffee roasters offer their beans and ground coffee in recyclable bags that can be recycled with your everyday paper and plastic waste. This can be a great option for those who want to support environmentally conscious roasters.

Here at Coffee Notes, we have decided to make the switch to new recyclable bags. By making small changes like using recyclable bags, we can all do our part to protect the planet and reduce waste.
The Earth is what we all have in common. It's up to each of us to do our part in protecting and preserving our planet for future generations. Preparing your coffee the old fashioned way and Recycling the coffee bags may seem like a small change, but as Anne-Marie Bonneau reminds us, many people making a small change can have a significant impact. Every small step counts. By working together, we can create a more sustainable future for our planet and all those who call it home.  
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