Besides imported PLA (plant-based) cups, bagasse containers (bowls, plates and clam shells), waste pulp (recycled cartonboard) fruit trays and recycled fibre coffee cups, Natural Pack is the local agent for Innovia’s NatureFlex renewable and compostable packaging films.
Imported products are top quality but, although beginning to take their place on brand owners’ purchase orders, costs, compared to other forms of non-eco-friendly packaging, are sometimes prohibitively high.
However, John’s on a quest to change this. The cost of his coffee cups and sugar sachets already compares favourably with traditional products and he’s just launched what’s claimed to be the first South African-manufactured compostable coffee bag.
Two years in the making and in collaboration with the late Bob Jones (Colpak) and Mike Palos (Caturra), this compostable coffee bag is made using Innovia’s NatureFlex metallised, high-barrier compostable film.
With the opportunity available to combine grades of NatureFlex film with other biopolymer films to produce technical flexible laminates suitable for packaging coffee, John, Bob and Mike set to work to produce the first locally-manufactured compostable bag for Caturra coffee.
Whether coffee is roasted, ground, beans or instant, its demand on packaging is high. It not only needs a long shelf life (between 12 and 18 months and, in some cases, up to 24 months), it also needs to maintain its distinctive coffee aroma. It’s also highly sensitive to moisture, oxygen and UV light and has oils that need containing.
The bag’s three-layer structure comprises a clear NatureFlex NK 20µm film outer layer, a high-performance metallised NatureFlex NKME 20µm middle layer and a 50µm biopolymer sealant inner layer.
Innovia’s NatureFlex films based on wood pulp sourced from managed plantations are suitable for industrial and home composting. The NatureFlex NK clear moisture-barrier film offers increased shelf life, is heat sealable on both sides, offers a good barrier to gases and aromas, is naturally anti-static for trouble-free machinability and has enhanced print receptivity, allowing the use of water-based and UV inks, and traditional solvent-based inks.
The middle layer of Caturra’s bags, made from NatureFlex NKME high-performance metallised compostable film, offers superb dead-fold and twist capability, receptive surfaces for ease of conversion, high lustre and sparkle, an excellent UV light, gas, aroma and moisture barrier, is heat sealable on non-metallised surfaces, has inherent anti-static properties and controlled slip characteristics, as well as being resistant to oils and greases and is cold-seal compatible.
The final element that completes this bag is an Avery Dennison Flexi Air one-way non-compostable coffee valve (that’s easy to remove before composting the bag). This patented multilayer valve technology is specifically designed for coffee applications and allows the one-way flow of gases (such as CO2) out of the package and helps to protect the contents from particulate contamination and unwanted O2.
Other advantages include high-speed valve application allowing improved processing speeds; a flexible low-profile design enabling pre-application to packaging films; and customisable designs available in clear, printed or metallised.
Once the bags are made and printed by Colpak, using food-grade, home-compostable inks and adhesives from Sun Chemical, Caturra fills and seals them with its gourmet coffee range sourced from exotic locations around the globe.
Adding to this bag’s success, it recently won Most Innovative Product at the Green Expo, held in Cape Town. At the show, Natural Pack’s stand also took first place in the Best Small Stand category.
In addition to this local manufacturing breakthrough for coffee bags, plans are afoot to manufacture compostable sugar sachets and Natural Pack is currently installing two form-fill-seal machines.
And, testament to John’s practising what he preaches, in 2012 Natural Pack achieved its FSC certification, becoming the first South African supplier of FSC-certified sugar sachets (both for locally-manufactured and imported sachets).
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