STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International

Volume 4, Number 5

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44 STiR tea & coffee industry international / Issue 5, 2015 (October/November) H By Dan Bolton Adopting sustainability strategies in beverage packaging is simply good business. Sustainability Matters The cost of coffee in the cup is surpassed by a compli- cated single-use conveyance produced by the billions and discarded within minutes ot cup sleeves nicely illustrate the point: Many beverage business essentials are inherently wasteful. When Chicago-based LBP Manufacturing developed the now ubiquitous corrugated coffee sleeve in 1995, it was uncommon to see hot cups and sleeves made from recycled paper. Styrofoam was readily available and less expensive than a paper cup and sleeve. To save money, sleeves were thin and slim. This led coffee drinkers to routinely "double sleeve" (or worse, "double cup") to protect their hands, multiplying waste and cost. To be competitive, paper cups bore the additional expense of market- ing inks and designs. To reduce spills plastic lids became more sophisticated, costly and less easily re-purposed. Plastic stir sticks replaced spoons. Sugar cubes gave way to a colorful selection of four sweeteners in packets. Starbucks estimates that 80% of the coffee it sells leaves the store with its custom- ers. In their hand is a complicated single-use conveyance produced by the billions and discarded within minutes that can cost more than the coffee in the cup! That's not the sustainable ideal. As a result sleeves became an early target for sustainability initiatives. Beverage holders have evolved continuously since their invention (the basic 1991 Java Jacket design is referenced in 100 patents). The original Starbucks sleeves, intro- duced in 1997 and manufactured by LBP, were made from 60% post-consumer recycled content. Today LBP's hot cup sleeves are made of 100% recycled fibers and readily ac- cepted by municipalities with recycling programs. A single size fits many different cups. LBP's second-generation sleeves use about 35% less material than the original with no loss of performance. LBP's Eco line is compostable to Cedar Grove Composting* stan- dards, and in turn biodegradable. To meet the needs of airlines and vendors that do not use sleeves, the company developed a cup with a 360-degree double-wall air chamber made of 25% recycled material, a high percentage for insulated double wall cups. "Since Starbucks first rolled out EarthSleeve to the US and Canada in 2012, the cup sleeves have saved 21 million pounds of fiber, which correlates to more than 188,000 trees," according to Starbucks. The company reports EarthSleeves use 18% less paper than their predecessor and contain 25% more recycled materials. "The re- duced weight also reduces transportation costs and environmental impact. Estimated savings on paper in the (China-Asia Pacific Region) per year is more than 600,000 pounds (276,000 kilos)," reports Starbucks. The development of sustainable coffee sleeves illustrates a task that never ends. "I believe we are on a journey and that we have not arrived yet," observes Brent Denniston s.v.p. business development and international operations at LBP Manu- facturing. "As an industry overall, we are moving forward. I can tell you that at LBP sustainability is in the forefront of everything we do," he said. Along the way LBP has improved its efficiency in manufacturing sleeves, conserve energy and learned to re-purpose its own wastes. "Sustainability is not a trend, it is becoming a cultural shift," according to the Natu- ral Marketing Institute (NMI) which recently published a 136-page report on the sus- tainability marketplace: What's Really Driving USA Consumer Engagement in Sustainability. Single-serve capsules Single-serve brewers are found in nearly a third of American homes. Market pen- etration in Europe, Asia, and South America is increasing. In the US coffee drinkers discard 1.7 billion capsules a month. Globally almost 50 billion capsules, made mostly of non-recyclable materials, will be discarded in 2015. There are currently enough cap- sules in landfills to circle the globe 12 times. Capsules are cited by environmentalists as a wasteful convenience. Backlash has inspired shock videos like Kill The K-Cup #killthekcup, environmentalist blogs, media Retail price $1.95 Estimates for 16 oz take-away cup Printed cup - .08-.15 Plastic lid - .03-.05 Lid - .02-.04 Stir stick - .001-.002 Sleeve - .03 - .05 Napkin - .002-.004 Coffee: 0.32 *17 cups at $5.50 lb. for roast whole bean Cost to recycle? Sleeves are a sustainability success story

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