Did you ever set out on what you believed to be an entirely noble and worthwhile quest, only to return some weeks, months or years later, empty-handed, bemused, not angry exactly, but absolutely frustrated and soul-sapped? I like the word “disenfranchised” though, I suspect it’s not perfect in this context. But hey, let’s not let my lexiconic shortcomings stand in the way of a good(ish) story…
Recently on a quest for fancy compostable bags for a forthcoming coffee collaboration (that’s another article…), I stumbled, tripped then fell, headfirst into a rabbit hole of truly Alician proportions, complete with mad hatters masquerading as honest salespeople. More than once, I had to use my not-quite-shouty, but definitely stern voice in an effort to cut through the whitewashing BS “this bag is one hundred per cent compostable” (yeah right!!), of food packaging companies, before returning, flummoxed and empty-handed where I’d started.
Behind the scenes at Hammer Coffee Roasting, it’s my responsibility to ensure that our packaging is compostable. Our packaging isn’t perfect, i.e. the tin tie and label must be removed from our bags before popping them into your compost bin, and that’s frustrating. However, we’ve always salved that irritation by continuously researching and improving our packaging (compostable labels are coming soon to Hammer Coffee bags…).
Our R&D process has landed us on ASTM D6400, a North American standard that certifies all of our packaging compostable in Whistler, the Sea to Sky, the Lower Mainland and wherever municipal composting facilities exist.
Minimizing waste is incredibly important to us. The thought of our bags becoming soil for Whistler gardens, instead of landfill is reason enough for us to ensure that our products adhere to the ASTM D6400 standard. However, when food packaging companies create “compostable” coffee bags outside of the ASTM D6400 standard, shouting their virtues to an industry begging for greener solutions, my spidey senses start to tingle.
For the time being, we will continue to hand-stamp our existing certified compostable bags, thank you very much. We’ll wait until the food packaging industry delivers, complete with rigorous independent certification, on their lofty promises of compostability.