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Circular Economy

Loblaw and Club Coffee Lead the Way with Sustainable Coffee Packaging 

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Solange Ackrill

Vice-President of Marketing, Commercialization, and ESG, Club Coffee

Dr. Calvin Lakhan

Director, Circular Innovation Hub, York University

Vlad Rebellon

Senior Director of Sustainability and Strategic Initiatives, Loblaw Brands

Heather Fadali

Vice-President, Product Management and Innovation, Loblaw Brands

Loblaw Companies Limited has brought innovative, sustainable packaging solutions to the coffee category thanks to collaborations with Club Coffee and top researchers.

Canadians love their coffee,” says Solange Ackrill, Vice-President of Marketing, Commercialization, and ESG at Club Coffee (an ofi company). “It’s the number one most consumed beverage — more than tap water.” According to the Coffee Association of Canada, 71 per cent of Canadians drink coffee daily. 

Single-serve brewers are increasingly prevalent in Canadians’ homes, offering convenience, consistent quality, and less wasted coffee. According to NielsenIQ data, single serve pod and cup sales in Canada represent approximately 40 per cent of the market. However, they pose environmental concerns. “Millions of single-use plastic coffee cups are consumed daily, and at present, there’s limited to no infrastructure to recover these plastic cups in existing mechanical recycling systems,” says Dr. Calvin Lakhan, Director of York University’s Circular Innovation Hub.  

Traditional roast and ground coffee packaging also had issues. Better options were needed.

Striking a balance

Traditional coffee packaging has presented environmental challenges. Packaging maintains coffee’s freshness and quality and has long relied on non-sustainable options like multilayer bags, plastic jars, composite cans, and plastic cups that lack proper end-of-life solutions. Steel cans, though available, have a high carbon footprint from both a manufacturing and logistics perspective, plus volatile costs. The area was ripe for innovation.

“We wanted to strike the right balance between improved sustainability and maintaining the highest-possible quality,” says Vlad Rebellon, Senior Director of Sustainability and Strategic Initiatives at Loblaw brands. “And it was clear that we needed to look not only at more sustainable materials but at how those materials moved through the entire supply chain — no more shipping empty coffee cans, for example.”

Sustainable packaging innovation 

Loblaw Companies and Club Coffee L.P., a Toronto-based coffee roaster and manufacturer, have a longstanding partnership . Loblaw’s sustainable packaging journey in coffee advanced in 2016 with the launch of BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute)-certified commercially compostable** President’s Choice® single-serve coffee pods.

In 2022, the partnership produced a new recyclable* paper-based packaging for roast and ground coffee. 

“Through our partnership with Club Coffee, we redesigned all President’s Choice ground and whole bean coffee containers using AromaPak® with Boardio® technology, a paperboard container that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as sourced from responsibly managed forests,” says Heather Fadali, Vice-President of Product Management and Innovation, Loblaw Brands. President’s Choice was the first brand to bring this sustainable coffee packaging to market, with other brands following suit — creating a ripple effect of reduced carbon footprints and improved packaging recyclability nationwide.

Continued advances 

“Through our research, we were able to identify and quantify the significant reduction in both carbon emissions and plastics attributable to the use of the commercially compostable coffee pods (PurPod100®), as well as Aromapak® with Boardio® packaging,” says Dr. Lakhan, who’s also a leading researcher on life cycle assessment modelling for both types of sustainable packaging.

Loblaw’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its continuous innovation to deliver high-quality coffee to Canadians in more eco-friendly packaging solutions. The major retailer’s initiatives have made significant strides in reducing plastic waste and carbon emissions, aligning with Loblaw’s broader efforts to combat climate change. With packaging standards inspired by global best practices, Loblaw is paving the way for a more sustainable future in the retail industry, one cup of coffee at a time. 

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