LBP Manufacturing Creates Recyclable Coffee Filters
Single-serve coffee brewers are gaining market share in the coffee industry. According to Reuters, single serve coffee filters reached over $959 million in retail sales in 2012, which accounted for about 10% of the overall coffee market. This market is expected to grow by another 6% in 2013.
One of the biggest environmental concerns associated with single-serve coffee filters is that they are not recyclable. LBP Manufacturing, Inc. wanted to create an eco-friendly single-serve coffee filter that would offer a fully recyclable life cycle. The company approached Waste Management (WM) Sustainability Services to help with research and design of this new recyclable product. The goal was to create an alternative product that incorporated “design for recycle” thinking and to ensure that the product and its packaging had enhanced end-of-life recycling options in comparison to existing products.
WM Sustainability Plan
WM Sustainability Services consultants worked with LBP to understand the practical challenges to their goal and set up a framework to help them understand how material selection in the design phase of a product can affect its end-of-life recycling options and success. From there, WM Sustainability Services helped LBP select product materials that would be attractive to recyclers on the market; the consultants also educated LBP on how recycling works from the collection and processor perspectives. WM Sustainability Services consultants took LBP on tours of WM collection facilities to understand sorting limitations and potential roadblocks, set up laboratory analytical studies to understand how certain plastics would behave in relation to the proposed application, and facilitated interviews with plastics processors to understand their potential concerns related to the end-of-life processing of the new coffee filter.
The result of this engagement was the creation of a 100% recyclable coffee filter made up entirely of polypropylene (lid, filter medium and casing). This will be the first product of its kind on the market to be fully recyclable. WM Sustainability Services continues to work with LBP on engagements involving product life cycle analysis and helps them continue their journey towards sustainability.