Recycling Mystery: Coffee Bags


If you’re a coffee enthusiast who prefers to purchase coffee in bags rather than metal cans, you’ve probably wondered at some point, “Can I recycle coffee bags?” As is the case with a great deal of packaging, the answer is “Perhaps, but probably not kerbside.”

When it comes to recycling, some individuals declare, “If in doubt, toss it.” Unless you are certain that your local recycling facility accepts them, it is preferable to discard items. This is because non-recyclable items can obstruct the efficient sorting process at the recycling facility. Occasionally, they cause equipment to malfunction. When mixed with non-recyclable items, a recycling facility may dump entire loads of recyclable items.

Coffee bags are frequently discarded in non-recyclable waste.

Most Likely Not Curbside
Unless your programme specifically accepts coffee bags, including them in your kerbside bin reduces the amount of recyclable material.

Generally, household recycling programmes do not accept empty coffee bags, even if they appear to be made of paper or foil on the outside. According to recycling industry representatives, including Rumpke and WM, the flexible packaging for your coffee beans and grounds is frequently made of a variety of materials. Paper or foil bags, for example, are frequently lined with plastic.

The representatives stated that multi-material bags are not in high demand for recycling. While packaging made entirely of paper is likely recyclable, the majority of coffee bags contain an inner coating that helps preserve the beans’ freshness.

“If you’re a coffee drinker, the most environmentally friendly option is a reusable container. However, if that is not possible, a recyclable paper bag is preferable,” advises Amanda Pratt of Rumpke.

Eliminate Waste
The City of San Jose recommends reducing packaging waste on its website San Jose Recycles. “Instead of purchasing single bags of coffee, purchase coffee beans in bulk at your local supermarket. Bring an empty coffee bag or jar into the store to use as a container for your coffee rather than purchasing a new one each time.”

If you purchase beans in bulk bins, enquire with your grocer about using your own jar or pouch.

Mail-in Recycling
These TerraCycle programmes accept empty coffee packaging that is typically not accepted in household recycling.

Dunkin’ Dunkin’ and TerraCycle have partnered to offer a complimentary recycling service for eligible Dunkin’-brand coffee bags. To participate, you must first create a TerraCycle account and enrol online. Once a box is full of Dunkin’ bags, print a free UPS shipping label and ship your empties.

“We encourage you to ship your box when it is full to help reduce the program’s transportation carbon footprint,” the TerraCycle website states.

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Source: Coffee Talk

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