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Locale embraces sustainability with new design and packaging

Locale has relaunched its brand and packaging with a focus on identity and sustainability that goes beneath the surface.

Packaging says a lot about a brand. Do you go with a simple look that shows you’re cool or refined? Or bright, colourful graphics that are eye catching and full of personality? 

For Locale Coffee Roasters, Brand Manager Kristin Jackson says revaluating its packaging was about more than a skin-deep change.

“We have had a strong focus on sustainability for a really long time, but we were using so much packaging, like foil-lined coffee bags, that wasn’t sitting with our ethos,” Kristin says.

“We didn’t want to go ahead and just throw it all out, so in the background we’ve been trying to plan how we can roll out new packaging and source sustainable options as well.”

Locale found its solution in Caspak’s recyclable plastic coffee bag. But the team was also aware that most councils don’t offer a solution for soft-plastics recycling, so set out to close its own packaging loop.

“We’ve always wanted to make sure we are doing anything we can to have a better impact on the environment,” says Locale National Manager Josh “Pace” Jackson.

“We do a majority of deliveries to our café partners ourselves and we’ll be encouraging them to hold onto their used coffee bags. Every week when we drop off new stock, we can pick up those bags and get them processed ourselves, so they’re turned into products that will have some use in the world.”

Locale has partnered with Reground to guarantee this collection service for its recycling partners and ensure the bags end up in the correct recycling stream. Consumers can do the same by placing their bags in Redcycle collection bins. With the bags turned into essential resources that would otherwise require virgin materials to make, Locale says the switch could divert 1.5 tonnes of waste from landfill each year.

“We’re excited to join the Reground community. All our soft plastics will go back to Reground to be recycled locally. Our bags will then be turned into pellets and used on our roads here in Australia,” Kristin says.

The new coffee bags are just one in a long line of steps Locale has taken to improve its environmental sustainability. Locale has replaced its cardboard packaging with 100 per cent recycled material. In 2018, Locale moved all of its production to its solar powered Coburg roastery, a move that saw the Carbon Reduction Institute certifying it’s coffee as carbon neutral. Carbon emissions from Locale that can’t be reduced are offset by ‘carbon credits’, investments in sustainable renewable energy projects.

“This covers the production of the coffee, including transport and packaging, but we wanted to make sure we’re ticking all boxes from an emissions standpoint. Very soon, the certification will cover everything that we do as a business,” Kristin says. 

“The Carbon Reduction Institute provides us with an itemised report where we can see where our emissions are coming from and allows us to dig down into those areas to get down to zero emissions or limit it as much as we can in areas like transport.”

One way Locale has reduced its transport emissions is to buy blend components in bulk direct from producers to reduce the number of shipments. Locale also contributed socially and economically to origin countries through long-term partnerships with producers and investments in several projects.

Locale supports the Orangutan Coffee Project in Indonesia, paying an additional $1 per kilogram of green bean bought through the initiative. Half of this goes to the farmer as a premium for complying with organic and environmental standards. The other half goes to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, to support their conservation efforts. In 2019, 27 orangutans were rescued, 56 were treated at the rescue station, and 19 were re-introduced into the wild.

The roaster has also made an ongoing commitment for one of its major blend components, Bobolink from Brazil. The coffee is sourced direct from FAF Coffee (Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza) whose philosophy is to produce the highest quality product while taking social and environmental responsibility into account. Bobolink coffees are all family produced and emphasise balanced rewards for people, profit, and the planet.

“Partnering with FAF made complete sense for us from a quality and consistency perspective but also from an ethos standpoint,” Pace says.

“Every area has its own challenges with the environment, infrastructure, or social problems. Having continual relationships with our producing partners allows us to have a better understanding of what they’re dealing with in their communities, the solutions they’re looking for, and how we can contribute.”

Locale’s Organic blend, previously known as No. 142, has always contributed to these types of initiatives, but the Locale team felt the name and packaging failed to convey the correct message to the consumer. That was true across its blends, which didn’t capture the character of the brand.

“We weren’t involved in a lot of the original creative decisions for Locale. The new packaging was an opportunity to make the brand our own,” Kristin says.

“We went around the team and asked them to describe each of the blends in 10 words. We ended up with a big list of descriptors that were almost like personality traits. We put those on the back of the bag like bios, rather than just including your standard coffee notes.”

These descriptors influenced the new names of the Locale range. The classic No. 141 became Original Gangsta, the environmentally conscious No. 142 became  Eco Warrior, and the bold all-rounder No. 143 became Ultimate Wingman. Locale also added a fourth premium blend to its roster, The Real MVP.

“I was the only one on the team who knew the origin of the blends being named after numbers, and it wasn’t a very exciting story,” Pace says.

“From a retail perspective, the consumer might not necessarily understand elevations, regions, and varietals of a coffee, but they might be drawn to something more relatable. By having these different colours, names, and personalities, as well as flavour traits, you’re hitting multiple bases to attract customers buying coffee off the shelf.”

Each blend retains its classic colour scheme, while The Real MVP features purple tones and single origins are depicted with black. The new packaging features a mountain-inspired design, evoking many coffee growing regions as well as the growth or elevation of the brand.

“The initial concept was around ‘levelling up’ the branding and what we’re putting out. That idea evolved into the gradient mountain design,” Kristin says.

“We were also getting illustrations done for our merchandise and ended up with these little caricatures of the personalities for each of our blends, which is something that will hopefully appeal to a wider group of people.”

Alongside the new coffee bags, Locale is releasing reusable coffee cannisters to encourage consumers to buy coffee from its café partners without generating waste. Locale will be launching a store locater on its website featuring participating cafés.

“We’d already built up a base of online and direct-to-consumer sales and it’s increased quite a bit this year. It’s been good to create a solution targeted toward consumers, that appeals directly to them, rather than ‘retrofitting’ old ways to go to that market,” Pace says.

“This rebrand gives us the opportunity to make changes like this across the whole business. We felt we’d outgrown our old look and feel, particularly as we’ve expanded and built a bigger customer base and partnerships in different states. It was about finding that next step to be a little more efficient, effective, and increase that service level.”

This approach is summed up in the new tagline, ‘Coffee For The People’, which Kristin says is “Locale in a nutshell”. 

“Whether it’s our quest to make specialty coffee more approachable, the relationships we’ve built, our initiatives at farm level, or the support we provide within our communities, bringing people together over a coffee is what it’s all about for us,” she says. 

For more information, visit www.localeespresso.com.au