Our journey towards sustainable packaging
"We treat our social and environmental impact as a primary measure of success for our business and prioritise it even in cases where it may not drive profitability."
Montville Coffee’s B-Corp 2021 Annual Impact Assessment
Since our inception in 2000, we have been keenly interested in choosing socially and environmentally sustainable options in our supply chain. This hasn’t always been easy! But now we’ve got the Australian government on board. They've set some pretty great targets to drastically reduce landfill waste by 2025.
In 2018, the Australian government created National Packaging Targets to achieve by 2025, outlining a new and sustainable approach to packaging. They apply to all packaging that is made, used, and sold in Australia.
Targets by 2025:
- 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging.
- 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted.
- 50% of average recycled content included in packaging (revised from 30% in 2020).
- The phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging.
These targets require a complete and systemic change to the way Australia creates, collects, and recovers product packaging, and are an important step on our journey towards a circular economy for packaging.
So where are we positioned in this?
Internally, we have implemented many practices to reduce or eliminate our ‘landfill’ waste entirely. Coffee chaff organic waste (by product from the roasting process) and our hessian bags (packaging material of our green coffee supply) are being donated to local small farms for use in their farming practices. We shred all our cardboard with a lattice shredder and use it as protective filler material. We separate compostable waste from roasterie, paper from office and domestic recycling from the staff room. Issues are raised at weekly OPS meetings by staff regarding all cleanliness, production and disposal solutions. We have started staff training days regarding recycling improvements (and APCO labelling system) and encouraging all staff to contribute ideas and processes to reduce, reuse and recycle more.
In terms of our products, we have compostable packaging for our cafe coffee and drinking chocolate range. In 2022 we joined RedCycle’s soft plastic recycling program in attempts to divert our retail and at-home range from landfill. Unfortunately this program has now been suspended.
The suspension of RedCycle’s soft plastic packaging program shocked a lot of consumers and businesses, who had felt relieved knowing we were finally able to recycle our soft plastic waste. For us it has sparked a greater conversation; that we need to move away from soft plastics entirely. Most consumer packaging is used once before disposal, and soft-plastic recycling still relies on post-consumer behaviour to divert our packaging from landfill.
We are now reviewing the possibility of moving all our packaging to compostable packaging. Our main roadblock here is that we still have not yet achieved a long shelf quality or resealable functionality with the compostable packaging options available. For cafe settings this isn’t an issue since their turnover is so quick, but for retail and at-home settings, we need packaging that is reliable as well as sustainable. This is now an ongoing conversation with our packaging supplier.
As a business we are asking ourselves: Where is there room for improvement in our supply chain? What is possible to change in the near future, and what can I work towards changing? What would it look like to take responsibility for how our packaging will be used, and where it will go once its purpose has been served?
And as consumers we are asking ourselves: what does my current consumption look like, how reliant is my consumption on landfill-bound packaging? Can I take a little more responsibility for my choices, and recognise that I actually do have choices? Can I pressure the brands I buy from to step up? We already make a lot of our purchasing decisions based on our values, let’s bring packaging into the fold.