A New Zealand coffee roaster just announced that his company has introduced the world’s first fresh coffee bag that is compostable. Once the bag is empty, you can toss it onto your compost pile or into your bin, or bury it in the garden, and it disappears. The bags, made from wood pulp and cornstarch, took about 14 weeks to almost completely disappear at a composting facility that tested it. Reporter Amanda Cropp quoted the roaster, Geoff Johnson, stating that instant coffee already has been packaged in the compostable bags, but it’s a harder concept for fresh coffee. That’s because those cute roasted beans expel gas (CO2) as they age. The plastic one-way valve has been used to deal with this problem so far, helping to prevent the bags from actually blowing up. The new compost friendly bags have vents instead of the one-way valves. As internal pressure builds up inside the bag, vents open to automatically release the carbon dioxide. When you consider, according to Johnson, that fresh coffee consumption has risen 20 percent a year in the last five years, it means a big associated increase in the waste from the containers. Johnson has noticed that some of the increase in fresh coffee demand has been driven by his workplace customers, who have moved on from instant coffee to the freshly roasted. Now the move in offices is to espresso machines and what he calls “bean to cup” coffee. For the greenest-of-the-green customer, Johnson suggests placing your used coffee grounds into the empty coffee bag and composting the whole thing. As we’ve said before (http://www.roaste.com/CafeRoaste/News/2011/03/06/It%E2%80%99s-Spring-and... ) old coffee grounds add nutrients to the soil, so this makes an easy and efficient way to dispose of a bag and the grounds in the most environmentally advantageous way possible. So far the bags are available in New Zealand, but it shouldn’t be long before the technology reaches the US and roasters everywhere, including those of ROASTe. We’ll be on the lookout. Meanwhile, compost away in good health! How about some of our newest organics to enjoy before composting their grounds?
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