EcoBarista explains how it strives for new solutions in coffee packaging


EcoBarista Founder Zac Fryer explains the company’s passion for the environment, and how it keeps striving for new solutions in coffee packaging.

Long before sustainability and recycling became a hot topic in the coffee industry, one packaging manufacturer in Queensland got ahead of the curve.

Zac Fryer founded EcoBarista in 2013, and has made the roasters the company works with a top priority from the very beginning.

“Around 10 years ago, I saw the need for a sustainable packaging solution in Brisbane that gave specialty coffee roasters something that suited them,” he says. “I felt as if the coffee scene in Brisbane was moving ahead in leaps and bounds, but they didn’t have much packaging support.”

It was at this point that Zac began reaching out to coffee roasters independently to discuss new ideas for packaging that prioritised the need for a compostable and recyclable solution.

“I had a keen focus on sustainability back then, which not many people were talking about at the time,” he says. “The market was just throwing bags and cups at coffee roasters that weren’t always suitable for what they were trying to accomplish, and we wanted to change that.”

In the early days of EcoBarista, the focus was never about marketing or cost-cutting, but providing customer-led sustainable solutions to coffee packaging through offering bags, cups, or other packaging needs for cafés and roasters.

“We really grew through word of mouth while providing a high level of service and support for our early customers,” says Zac.

“It was one coffee roaster talking to the next about what we could bring to the table.”

Zac credits the relationships built with early customers as the basis for EcoBarista’s continued success, saying that a shared belief helped build a strong foundation.

“The specialty coffee community has always had a drive to be more sustainable,” Zac says. “By building relationships and spending time with roasters, they eventually become your mouthpiece within the industry, and we believe that organic growth like that is longer lasting.”

Zac says this long-term commitment to sustainability is one of the defining factors of the company.

“We didn’t just jump on the sustainability bandwagon a couple of years ago,” he says. “It has been a part of our core ethos from the very start.”

This commitment begins with the planning process, when EcoBarista’s team works with roasters to identify the right kind of packaging option for that business.

“We start at the end, and we work our way back,” Zac says. “We want our packaging to have end-of-life value.”

EcoBarista’s range of packaging solutions varies in terms of material structure, with each option offering different levels of shelf life and end-of-life disposal. It includes a recyclable, compostable and, in the future, reusable range. Customers can also choose between a three-side seal, stand-up pouch, or even try and invent a new kind of packaging design, all with customisable print options.

In the decade following its inception, EcoBarista has helped serve roasters from across the country package their carefully roasted product in a way that upholds its quality and intended flavour profile.

“We’re not a small company anymore, but we’ve kept that small company mindset where we check in on our customers regularly,” says Zac.

Throughout the years, EcoBarista has kept searching for new packaging solutions. Zac says mono-material packaging is significantly easier to recycle, making it a good solution for roasters prioritising environmental efforts.

“With the challenges around soft plastic recycling, we’ve been working hard to develop and build more kerbside recyclable options for our customers,” says Zac. “We have just released our heavy duty kraft paper bag, and our mono range will be available in early 2024.”

Its compostable range, which includes a bag structure named Compostable Plus, is derived from natural resources. It is made from renewable materials, with a plant- based lining for an increased oxygen barrier.

“We spent years testing with our roaster companies to come up with a solution that offers a high oxygen barrier to keep coffee fresh while also meeting home compostable certifications,” Zac says. “This product has been popular with our customers because it delivers on both.”

Zac says EcoBarista plans to continue innovating to find better, more sustainable packaging solutions while supporting its customers.

“The customers we work with are bold customers that want to push the boundaries of sustainability,” he says.

“When you work with a company like us, you get a unique solution and a level of service that understands the world of coffee.”

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This article appears in the February 2024 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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