Zume brings compostable sugarcane fiber-based coffee lids to European market
20 May 2022 --- Zume has developed compostable coffee lids made from bagasse, a pulp made from sugarcane. The company is announcing the environmentally sustainable snap-fit coffee cup lids are now available in Europe.
Food brands across Germany, Benelux, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and more will be able to replace plastic lids with a cost-effective alternative that’s compostable, snappable, and PFAS-free. The lids will help food brands meet their environmental sustainability commitments without sacrificing performance, claims the company.
PackagingInsights speaks with Alex Garden, Zume’s chairman and CEO: “Many fiber-based alternatives don't hold up to hot liquids and either lose their form or break down, which is not ideal for coffee drinking.”
“Through extensive research and development combined with our advanced manufacturing technology, we can transform natural materials like bagasse, which is a pulp made from sugarcane, into our advanced [environmentally] sustainable snap-fit lids.”
Finding the right fiber
Garden explains developing a snap-fit lid that holds up to hot coffee is not easy, let alone making it compostable. He says it is essential to think about why brands choose plastic in the first place: because it's cheap, convenient and functional.
“Despite those qualities, we've all had plastic lids that either leak or don't fit the cup entirely. There is nothing more frustrating for coffee drinkers.”
“Our proprietary recipes consist of various natural fibers depending on what can be [environmentally] sustainably sourced locally near our manufacturing facilities.”
“These lids, in particular, are produced in India, so they're primarily made from bagasse, a pulp made from sugarcane, but we also use bamboo, agricultural waste, wheat, straw, softwoods, and other natural materials to create our advanced [environmentally] sustainable packaging.”
The company says the material flexibility enables it to expand our molded-fiber solutions to manufacturers worldwide, regardless of their available resources.
“By choosing to produce our packaging from these fibers, we can significantly reduce carbon emissions in production and disposal while repurposing natural materials that would otherwise have gone to waste.”
When asked how the fiber-based lids compare to conventional plastic lids, Garden stresses the latter are “entirely [environmentally] unsustainable, and if we don't stop using single-use plastics, there will be catastrophic consequences.”
He highlights plastic lids and disposable coffee cups can take decades to decompose and release harmful microplastics that pollute our food, water and bodies.
“Unlike plastic which is developed from materials like coal, crude oil, and natural gas that harm our environment and are significant contributors to global warming, our solution is made from repurposed natural materials like bagasse, significantly reducing carbon emissions in production,” says Garden.
“From harvest to production to disposal, our lids work to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and eliminate plastic waste across its entire lifecycle while simultaneously helping global brands meet their [environmentally] sustainability commitments.”
European coffee drinkers
Europe consumes more coffee than any other continent, resulting in excessive waste from plastic lids. The environmental sustainability solutions company says in the UK alone, 2.5 billion coffee cups and lids are thrown away each year, but only 0.25% are recycled, leaving the rest to pile up in our landfills or spill into our waterways.
While there have been calls from regulators to reduce plastic waste, food brands cannot eliminate plastic from to-go cups without a viable alternative. Zume is providing the solution with the launch of its environmentally sustainable snap-fit coffee lid available at the scale needed to rid Europe of single-use plastic lids.
“As brands, we have a responsibility to prioritize our environmental impact the way we do our bottom lines; through our environmentally sustainable coffee lids, food brands can now do both,” says Garden.
“Our molded fiber lids have the same premium feel and functionality that coffee drinkers expect and show what's possible when you combine an environmentally sustainable mindset with world-class engineering and product design at a price that makes it a cost-effective alternative to plastic,” he adds.
Zume’s coffee lids are a part of the company’s larger collection of compostable food and beverage packaging. Zume’s offerings include anti-leak hot cup lids, bowls, food delivery containers, three-piece meal trays and more, helping the world’s largest food brands accelerate the transition away from plastic and styrofoam without the use of harmful chemicals.
Last year, ABB Robotics partnered with Zume to support the transition away from single-use plastic in the foodservice sector. ABB Robotics will supply more than 1,000 robotic cells to enhance Zume’s global production of molded fiber, plant-based packaging, including up to 2,000 robots at Zume customers’ sites in the US and India over the next five years.
Meanwhile, Jefferson Enterprise Energy’s joint venture with Zume, creators of an advanced molded fiber technology for replacing single-use plastic items, has secured US$122 million bond financing from Hilltop Securities to build North America’s first renewable energy-powered compostable packaging factory.
By Natalie Schwertheim
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