Are Coffee Bags Recyclable? (And Biodegradable Too?)

Studies show that Americans consume about 146 billion cups of coffee yearly. That’s a whopping amount, and about 400 million cups are consumed every single day! In the entire world, about 170 million coffee bags are used yearly.

It’s safe to assume that a large quantity of the population loves coffee. So, if you’re one of the people who need coffee to feel fully awake, then you burn through your fair share of coffee bags.

Now, this leads to the issue of disposal. As much as we love coffee, we need to dispose of our waste in environmentally conscious ways. So, when you’re done with your coffee bag, do you recycle it or throw it in the trash can? More importantly, is it environmentally sensitive to throw your coffee bag in the trash can?

Well, if you’re curious about these questions, then please read on. We’ll examine some frequently asked questions about coffee bags and how to dispose of them properly. Dive in!

Can You Recycle Coffee Bags?

A coffee bag is a necessary packaging – it keeps your coffee fresh and maximizes the flavor. It’s also a straightforward way to prepare your coffee. You can pop a bag into a steaming cup, wait for two minutes, and get the beverage that keeps you going for the day!

However, this packaging choice poses some environmentally conscious questions. For instance, can you recycle it? If it’s impossible, how can you dispose of each coffee bag you use?

Well, you can recycle a coffee bag. Most coffee bags come in paper, just like typical teabags. If that’s the brand you have, then you can recycle it.

On the other hand, if yours isn’t made from paper, that may pose some recycling difficulty. In fact, you may be unable to recycle it because it’s likely made from a combination of materials, and they’re mostly inseparable.

A coffee bag could also have a layer of plastic film, and when that’s combined with paper for the outer layer, it’s non-recyclable. So, in that case, the best you can do is toss it in the trash.

Now, instead of resorting to this environmentally hazardous method of disposal, you might as well choose a brand that makes conscious efforts to provide environmentally safe packaging options.

For instance, some brands use fermented carbohydrates, rice paper or kraft paper to make their coffee bags. These options are entirely biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry about polluting the environment even if you throw them in a trash can.

Can You Recycle Starbucks Coffee Bags?

Starbucks has made a good name for itself in the beverage industry. You can get any mouth-watering flavor of coffee from this brand, and you’ll even get your name customized on your cup.

Moreover, despite the love we have for Starbucks, we must always remain loyal to the environment. That’s why we’re concerned about whether we can recycle Starbucks coffee bags.

You can now buy your own Starbucks coffee and prepare it at home. This means you have delicious coffee at your fingertips, and it typically comes in sizable bags.

But again, environmental concerns arise – can you recycle these coffee bags?

Well, on the surface, the bags appear to be made from paper, like every other average coffee bag. Paper is recyclable.

However, when you open a Starbucks coffee bag, you’ll find a layer of plastic that prevents the bag from leaking. It’s also what’s responsible for sealing the flavor and aroma of each coffee recipe.

As a result of the combination of these materials, you cannot recycle Starbucks coffee bags. They’re inseparable unless you’re ready to separate the paper and plastic painstakingly.

So, instead, you can find other ways to dispose of the bags properly. There are several creative hacks for this, and we’ll examine them in this blog post.

Are Coffee Bags Biodegradable?

Biodegradation is one of the ways nature disposes of our waste. Imagine millions of years with non-biodegradable waste – it would be a disaster!

A biodegradable material is any material that breaks down speedily under the right conditions. These conditions are moisture, sunlight, weather conditions, and of course, microorganisms.

Microorganisms feed on these wastes and convert the remnants to the soil, thereby keeping out soil supply going.

Coffee bags can be biodegradable, but it depends on the materials they’re made from. For instance, kraft paper bags are sometimes used for packaging coffee, and they’re completely biodegradable.

The same goes for fermented carbohydrates and rice paper – they go through a process that makes them biodegradable. That way, when you’re done consuming the coffee in them, you can easily dispose of the bags without hurting the environment.

Now, the conventional coffee bag may be biodegradable too, but it depends on what it’s made of. Paper bags without plastic linings will break down; after all, they’re made from trees. So, microorganisms will find it easy to devour them.

However, with a plastic layer, it can take decades to break down, instead of the few weeks to months that paper requires.

In addition, the decomposition process for plastic isn’t particularly good for the environment. While it slowly happens, it releases dangerous toxins into the environment – both the soil and atmosphere.

Are Coffee Bags Compostable?

What are Compostable materials? They break down fast and will provide nutrients for your soil and plants.

Most regions have compost bins, and you can put all your compostable waste in there. Compostable waste includes vegetable matter, some raw and leftover foods, and any other waste that’s not meat, fish, dairy, and its products, and cooked or raw fat.

If you’re familiar with gardening, then you know that no waste is truly useless. You can compost biodegradable materials in a compost pile in your backyard, and it’s a pretty straightforward process.

So, can you compost coffee bags? Absolutely! These bags are one of the most compostable kitchen wastes. Of course, you can also compost your coffee grounds, and they’re excellent for improving the texture of your soil.

Now, back to coffee bags. You can compost them; however, it depends on the material the bags are made from.

Decomposition is necessary for compost preparation, and moisture, aeration, weather conditions, and microorganisms are responsible for the process. However, there’s a limit to what these factors can break down.

For instance, they can break down your coffee bags made from fermented carbohydrates, kraft paper, and rice paper. Of course, they’ll also find it easy to decompose coffee bags made purely from paper.

However, most coffee bags have inner linings that keep the flavor and aroma sealed while keeping moisture out. These linings are made from plastic, and while they’re usually very thin layers, microorganisms are still incapable of breaking them down.

Even if the process were possible, we’re certain you don’t want plastic remnants in your soil or anywhere near your plants. They’re dangerous additions!

So, you can compost your coffee bags. You have to ensure that they don’t contain plastic or any layer that isn’t biodegradable.

Are Coffee Bags Reusable?

Reusing items is one of the ways to buy back on our consumption of both renewable and non-renewable resources. It makes room for sustainability.

However, we can’t reuse all our items because some are single-use items. So, is a coffee bag one of the single-use items? Well, the answer is no.

You can reuse your coffee bag multiple times and for several things aside from storing coffee too.

Most times, coffee bags are durable and strong. That’s why they can effectively package your coffee without causing it to lose its aroma or delicious flavor. So, you can take advantage of that by refilling the bags with coffee or using it in another manner.

If you’re curious about the other things you can use coffee bags for, then you’re at the right place. We’ve got many creative ideas for you.

What Can I do with Old Coffee Bags?

When buying coffee in a large quantity, you can’t avoid buying it with the packaging. Typically, it comes in a bag, and the standard size can be about 250g.

As such, it’s large enough to serve several purposes when you’re done with that batch. So here are a few things you can do with old coffee bags:

1. Planter

Coffee bags are sizable enough to serve as planters. For instance, if you buy a 250g bag of coffee, you can fill it with sand and plant some seeds in it when you’re done with the supply.

The best part is that most of these bags are largely reusable, so you can use them to plant and replant repeatedly. Then, when your plants are grown, you can transplant easily, refill, and begin the process again.

If your coffee bag is made from compostable and biodegradable materials, you don’t even need to transplant it. Instead, you can leave the bag to decompose and contribute organic matter to your soil.

Now, to prepare the bag, you’ll have to wash out the leftover coffee thoroughly. Then, fill it with potting soil and make perforations for easy aeration.

2. Sleeping Bags or Blankets

You can use your old coffee bags for blankets or sleeping bags. However, you won’t be able to use your typical paper coffee bags. Instead, you need more sturdy ones, like Mylar bags.

When you accumulate enough coffee bags over time, you can cut them up and sew them together. They’ll give you the perfect sleeping bag or blanket. You can also lay the finished material on the ground before placing your sleeping bag on it when you’re going camping.

Alternatively, you could keep these makeshift blankets in your bag and hand them to homeless people during the winter.

3. Tote Bags

You can fashion a tote bag out of almost anything these days. As long as the material is sewable, you’re good to go.

But for the sake of sturdiness, you may need Mylar coffee bags – they can hold more weight without breaking, as opposed to regular paper coffee bags.

As always, accumulate your coffee bags over time, find a tote bag draft pattern on the internet, and cut out the strips you need. Then, sew them together with a needle or sewing machine, and you’re good to go!

These tote bags make great gift items, and they’re great for grocery shopping too.

4. Book Covers

Aside from hardcover books, most books start getting worn out from their covers. Of course, there are wrapping papers for books, but why spend money purchasing some when you could use your old coffee bags instead?

You can use seal tapes to attach the coffee bags to your book cover. Alternatively, you could also use any strong adhesive that won’t damage your book.


Coffee is one of the most consumed foods globally, and it’s common in almost every region. One of the common ways to package it is with coffee bags made from different materials.

However, despite loving coffee so much, we must also consider the impact its packaging has on the environment. We’ve delved into this and more in this article and hope we’ve been of help in guiding you through how to dispose of coffee bags properly.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.