Coffee bags are a difficult source of waste to process because they contain multiple materials (wax coating, paper bag, tin closure) that make none of it recyclable/compostable. In comparison to other trash we deal with, these bags are a lot harder to compact than plastic bags, films and wraps. Our large bags became a source of trash when we remove coffee from the shelves to be brewed at the cafe.
To get rid of our largest, most cumbersome bags, we recently started a bin exchange program with Eric at the roastery. When Eric brings fresh coffee from the roastery, it now comes in reusable plastic bins and we give him our bins to fill up for the next week. By exchanging re-usable bins, we are saving about 15 5lb bags from going in the trash every week. Not only are we saving on trash, we are saving money on both ends! No longer do we have to spend the money or labor bagging up coffee that we are just using behind the bar, and we were able to put a big dent in the amount of trash we make, which also costs a lot of money to collect.
For customers, we started offering reusable glass jars to fill up with bulk coffee and placed them front and center so they are the first available option instead of single use bags.
What if we told you that we were able to reduce waste, AND provide fresher coffee at the cafe? Instead of pulling large bags of coffee off our shelves to brew at the cafe, now we replenish from the bulk bins. Twice a week our bulk bins are filled with four fresh new coffees, giving us more variety and the freshest possible coffee to brew at the cafe. It also means that our bulk coffee in a reusable container is not only the best choice for the environment, but its also the freshest choice for our customers!
And one more thing... as soon as Seven uses all of its current stock of coffee bags, we will be switching to compostable coffee bags!