Firelight Coffee’s New Sustainable Packaging

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We are beyond excited to take the wraps off of our latest bag redesign! This has secretly been in the works for months while the team perfected every detail and found the right partners to turn this idea into a reality. Featuring a full custom design in three colors, convenient features like a resealable zipper and block bottom, and fully recyclable materials (even the zipper and one-way valve!), the new Firelight packaging is a beautiful and sustainable way to showcase our coffees.

How We Got Here

Sustainable packaging has been top of mind at Firelight since the company’s inception, and we have tried different methods based on what was best at any given time. After moving away from purely non-recyclable standard retail packaging, we used Biotre bags (60% compostable) for a few years as a step toward renewable packaging. While it is a great option, we felt that most people using our bags wouldn’t have access to a composting facility to fully take advantage of the technology. Instead of sitting still, we started exploring ways to marry a passion for renewable products with the need to fully protect our roasted coffee from light and moisture. After hours of searching, reading articles, and talking to experts, we landed on something that is old news in food packaging, but newer to coffee: LDPE plastic. It seems counterintuitive to celebrate and rely on plastics, but by crafting the entire bag out of a single type plastic, including all barrier layers, one-way valve, and even the zipper, we are able to package coffees in something that can be easily and fully recycled by processors that handle this material. What’s the catch? This material is still considered “high-barrier” when it comes to protection of coffee from outside elements, but will be slightly less thick than a traditional coffee bag. This means that the bags won’t try to protect the coffee for a year at a time, like grocery store coffee bags would, but rather focus on protecting the coffee for a few months instead. Since our coffees are roasted to order every week in small batches, this approach is perfect for us and our customers won’t be impacted at all! It’s a win for the environment and a huge step forward for Firelight.

The Design

We started the redesign process in late 2020 by throwing around ideas for new bags. After coordinating some of the logistics, like suppliers, bag type, etc. we contacted one of our favorite illustrators, Rachel Eleanor. Rachel is an old friend and one of the most talented illustrators in the city, and we were so grateful when she agreed to tackle our project! She spent a week in the roastery with us talking through our mission, watching the roasting process, and sharing lots of coffee with us. At crucial points we pulled the team together to decide on design directions, led by Rachel’s expert branding sensibilities. By the end of the week, we had a full design that was incredibly beautiful and packed full of meaning around our vision for what Firelight is and aspires to be.

The design of the bag depicts a lush nature scene, where we have our “wanderer” on a journey to find coffee that satisfies them. On the front they are camping by firelight as a stop on their quest. By rotating the bag, we can see them among the trees in a forest of options as they make their way towards the goal. On the opposite side of the bag, our helpful guide appears to show the way (and offer some basic coffee brewing instructions!). Finally, on the back we have a statement expressing our thanks to all those who found us among their wandering as well as a brief explanation of our mission to make great coffee accessible to everyone.

Sustainability

This new packaging marks a huge step forward towards our sustainability goals, but we aren’t stopping there. As part of our mission, we are working to implement a recycling program where customers can easily return their used bags to us so that we can recycle them at a partner facility. Eventually we want to have the same program for our wholesale and bulk bags, and then all packaging materials that our company uses. Earlier this year we switched to gummed tape for our boxes, making them 100% curbside recyclable, and should soon have curbside recyclable mailers as well (for more information, here’s a short page about how our materials can be recycled). Firelight is early in the journey toward being carbon neutral, and we have a long way to go, but our hope is that implementing these practices early will make it easier to grow into the most sustainable company that we can. Thank you for your support along the way!

(For our press release about the bags, click here to download!)

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