The world’s coffee market is on the hunt for new and improved products that embrace sustainability and have a reduced environmental impact.
Husband and wife team Mark and Alana Beattie have the same drive, and have found a way to make an environmental difference by launching biodegradable and compostable packaging.
As owners of Coffee Roasters Australia, manufacturers of Australia-made roasting equipment and providers of an in-house roaster refurbishment service, Mark and Alana have spent the past 11 years addressing the needs of Australian roasters and consumers. High on the list has been a coffee capsule with minimal environmental effects.
To address this requirement, the couple started sister company Capsule Pack in 2013.
At first, Capsule Pack dealt only in plastic capsules, but in 2016 it moved from plastic to only producing biodegradable capsules.
The first biodegradable and compostable capsules needed a nitrogen-flushed packaging sleeve to keep in the freshness. Earlier this year, those sleeves became 100 per cent compostable, and the good news kept coming.
Capsule Pack now manufactures a hermetically sealed compostable capsule called BioCap, made entirely from sugarcane and sugar beet that has a 12-month shelf life.
“Its leading, cutting-edge technology and its performance in Nespresso-compatible capsule machines is outstanding. It is also adding value to the planet,” Alana says.
“What having a hermetically sealed unit also allows us to do is to make the outer retail package far more compact, which maximises shelf space, reduces overall packaging costs, the impact of packaging on the environment, and also reduces shipping costs.”
Alana says for many Australian roasters wanting to move into the capsule space, and for consumers wanting to uptake the convenient method of coffee consumption, Capsule Pack provides a guilt-free solution.
“Many users of coffee capsules recognise this feeling of guilt, when you throw away your used aluminium or plastic capsules in your garbage bin, but not any longer,” Alana says.
Even the top film of the capsule is made of plant material. Testing under industrial conditions shows that the capsule will fully break down into compost in around 12 weeks. It can be added to consumers’ compost heaps, where it produces carbon dioxide, water, and biomass in a closed-loop cycle to feed a garden or enrich soil, rather than adding more plastic to landfills.
“My husband and I, in our coffee business also, put the environment very high up on our values list,” Alana says. “That’s why we have always been striving to achieve this product that we have today. I believe it is the future of the capsule sector.”
Even if used BioCaps are thrown in regular waste where they may end up at a landfill, recycling unit, or incinerator, Alana says they will have less impact on the environment than plastic capsules.
The packages for the new BioCaps come in a compact box design, are cuboid, measure 78 millimetres in width, height and depth, and contain 10 capsules each, as is category standard.
“The smaller we make the packaging, the more cost-effective it is for the roaster and the more cost-effective it is to send internationally as well,” she says.
Capsule Pack has installed a new high-speed production line that has the capacity to produce 25 million capsules a year, making it one of the largest packers in Australia, Alana says.
The company is not only looking at local markets, but is in negotiations with some major retailers overseas to stock coffee in BioCaps. It has the ability to roast, grind, and pack at its facilities.
“Australian roasters love to send us their coffee and we grind and pack it, but for international companies, we can roast, grind, and pack, making it incredibly economical,” Alana says.
“With the smaller packaging design, [international businesses] can be absolutely competitive within their market with a high quality Australian roasted and packed capsule.”
The new BioCaps will be available from June.