I discovered this message on the bottom of the 1lb bag of coffee beans I purchased about a month ago and thought I would look into PLA and try my hand at composting the bag to see how easily it could be done. The issue here isn’t the paper itself (although that is an issue all its own) but the plastic coating used to line coffee bags. I often save my coffee bags to be reused for storing dried sea kelp for the garden, dried herbs, or flower petals. I’m not a heavy coffee drinker but one can only use so many coffee bags — composting had never occurred to me as an option.
To compost I simply removed the metal tie, ripped the bag into 4 pieces and put it through our shredder before adding it to our kitchen scraps bin (the bin that sits in our kitchen before being dumped into the outdoor composter). We’ve been stuffing the small rooftop cold composter with greens all winter and could really use some browns* in there! This process was easy enough although our as-cheap-as-they-come shredder that is constantly blocked up with stuck bits of paper pulp in the corners, did not appreciate the corn plastic, refusing to shred some of the pieces completely.
It’s been about a month since I put the scraps in the bin and while they aren’t completely composted (because it is winter and our bin is shallow) the “plastic” corn part seems to be dissolved and I have not noticed any sticky residue, unusual growth, or general weirdness inside. I have written on at least one occasion about compostable products, and my thought is that in the end, while it is great that we now have more environmentally responsible items to replace plastic, what I should be thinking about is how to reduce or replace consuming the item in the first place. This exercise in composting a bag is a good reminder that rather than buying my coffee in a bag, albeit a compostable one, I could be bringing a container with me on the days I know I will be stopping in for a lb of beans, saving the paper, the growing of the corn, and the production of corn plastic completely.
*Browns are the dry, carbon-rich ingredients like dry leaves, hay, or newspaper that are added to the bin to balance out the process and keep your bin from becoming too wet and stinky.