so I am starting a small business that sells packaged food and coffee beans. Sustainability is an important issue for me, so I'm trying for my packaging to negatively impact the environment as small as possible.

After google here and there, the choice are down to 2 types of packaging:

1. Paper metal bag (with no valve and zipper)

enter image description here

Initially, I'm trying to use a kraft paper with laminated foil on the inside. But that packaging is hard to print on. At least I didn't find anyone do that in my country. So, this packaging has great availability (easy to get with reasonable price)

But, during my reagle (= research on google, jk), I found that this kind of packaging is hard to recycle since it's a composite of different materials. So, recycle-rs need to split the composites into standalone materials.

  1. 2 layers of packaging, inner plain plastic, outer plain cardboard.

enter image description here

I don't have knowledge on this topic, but, based on my previous reagle (again, jk), I conclude that two standalone materials are easier to recycle since the recycle-r don't have to split any composites.

With this kind of packaging, I can also can offer some kind of small discount if my customers return the box in their next order (good customer relation as well).

Initially, I thought using plain plastic is bad, but after reading that foil paper article, I think plain plastic is better since it's easier to process / recycle.

The outer plain cardboard is there to protect the inside from light, and for displaying my brand.

So, which one you think will have lower impact to the environment? And if you have any other alternatives, feel free to.

Ideally, I want to open a zero-waste small shop which customers need to bring their own jars / containers. Unfortunately, in my current condition, it's not viable yet.


Photos credit to their respective owners.

  • I think option 2 is better, because it's recyclable and because producing metal has a big environmental impact. However I can't back this up with numbers from LCAs. Any chance you can use compostable plastics for option 2?
    – THelper
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 5:58
  • @THelper I wish, but it's not available on my country yet. What's LCAs btw? Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 6:23
  • Sorry, I shouldn't have used or at least explained the abbreviation. It's life-cycle-analyses (see also this tag)
    – THelper
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 6:38

2 Answers 2


Of the two options that you mentioned I believe that the second would be better. However, there are a number of 100% biodegradable plant-based packaging options for food products such as coffee.

TekPak is one company that sells biodegradable coffee bags. (They also offer a craft paper finish that you mentioned you were interested in.)

TekPak Omnidegradable bags
(image from TekPak website)

A few other companies offering similar products are listed on the Creative Culture biodegradable packaging directory (Full disclosure: the Creative Culture Guide is a project that I helped create.)

  • Welcome to Sustainable Living! Are you affiliated to TekPak by any chance? Please note that we require people to mention any affiliation they have when recommending brands/companies.
    – THelper
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 9:23
  • Thanks for pointing that out @THelper. I am not affiliated with TekPak in any way. However I am the main (volunteer) developer for the Creative Culture Guide. I looked for the sustainability stackexchange guidelines for what the proper my way mention the fact that I was linking to a project that I was affiliated with but I didn't manage to find any guidance. What is the correct way to disclose that?
    – SuprMan
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 2:23
  • Thank you for editing your answer. There are no rules on how to disclose exactly, your edit is fine.
    – THelper
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 6:49
  • I'm aware of TekPak, but it's not viable to get from where I live right now. :) Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 8:46

The best of all packaging materials is glass, for liquids and soft powders. Then you simply stick a printed paper label on with cow gum. Anything dry and larger than powder is best in cardboard waxed with beeswax on the inside. You could use a wrap around paper label or print onto the cardboard. Plastics of all kinds should always be avoided. We had none at all seventy or so yeas ago and we lived very well in those days.

  • I 100% agree with you. However this answer derails from the question. So i have to downvote it. Thanks for answering though :) Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 16:42
  • 1
    What about the argument that glass is heavier than e.g plastic and thus transporting it causes more emissions?
    – laurt
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 18:27

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