are starbucks coffee bean bags recyclable
Kristina Davis

Are Starbucks coffee bean bags recyclable? Can I use it multiple times and use it as a refillable container for other types of coffee beans?

As an all-day coffee person, I had to find it out. In fact, I am planning to purchase coffee beans for myself, so I know what I have to do…

To answer, Starbucks coffee bean bags that are solely made from paper are recyclable. 

However, those that are coated with thin plastic in the interior are not because you wouldn’t be able to separate the plastic from the paper.

What Types of Coffee Bags Are Recyclable?

type of coffee bags

Generally, coffee bean bags can be made from many different types of materials.

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However, the most common are Kraft Paper, Polylactic Acid (PLA), Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE), and Rice Paper.

Out of all these, polylactic acid or PLA is the only material that is not recyclable. Therefore, I will go ahead and discuss the three that is.

Kraft Paper

Kraft paper is what many experts consider the most common out of all these materials.

The product is easy to recycle, lightweight, and resilient to many different types of processes.

It is a product made from wood pulp, and therefore, is reusable.

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

the lpde bag

LDPE is often confused with traditional plastics as they are resilient and have been a popular packaging material in the past years.

Since then, they’ve become the perfect material in the creation of coffee bean bags because of the fact that they can effectively sustain quality and they’re recyclable. 

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Rice Paper

Last, but most definitely not least is rice paper.

Don’t confuse yourself with kraft paper and rice paper because the latter is typically made from better renewable resources like bamboo and tree bark.

Modern specialty coffee beans utilize rice paper because of the feel and the texture it has.

And while these are the most common materials used in manufacturing coffee bags, let me go through the materials used in making Starbucks coffee bags.

What Are Starbucks Coffee Bean Bags Made Of?

what are they made of

Before identifying whether Starbucks coffee bean bags are recyclable or not, first, let me discuss and help you figure out what it’s made of.

This will allow you to understand it better.

Starbucks coffee bags are made from a special type of material. The exterior or surface of these coffee bags is derived from paper, which is recyclable.

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There are some bags made from kraft paper, while some are made from rice paper, which is good considering their recyclable properties.  

However, most Starbucks coffee bags have a plastic lining in the interior, attached and embedded in the paper.

This automatically cancels out its ideology of being recyclable because plastic, as we know it, is not recyclable.

What is the Purpose of the Thin Plastic?

purpose of thin plastic

Presumably, coffee beans are not as easy to work on as you think.

Spillages happen more than you think; therefore, companies need to respond to that – and how did they do it? – Thin plastic film.

This thin film allows the entire packaging to be built in such a way that it would not spill.

Furthermore, the plastic film is also responsible for keeping the smell, flavor, and aroma of the beans intact. So, every time you open it, only a small chunk of its freshness is gone.

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The question is – can you recycle coffee bags? Is it safe to do so?

Are Starbucks Coffee Bean Bags Recyclable? 

can recycle bags

Answering this can’t be direct – it’s a yes and no at least for me, and here are the reasons why.

Starbucks has a vast library of coffee bean bags that they offer its consumers.

Over time, they’ve improved their line of products and now came to a point that they’re using thin plastic films for the interiors.

You’ll be able to find multiple types of coffee bean bags offered by Starbucks. Older versions were strictly made of paper.

But then again, technology ensued, and companies used plastic and/or foil as the inner or interior lining of the coffee bean bags, making them unrecyclable as a whole.

Have you seen the older versions of these coffee bags? They’re pure paper!

They look stylish and fashionable, but functionality-wise, I would choose the newer versions because of how well they contain the aroma and flavor of the beans.

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Why Can’t You Recycle These Bags?

You wouldn’t be able to recycle these types of bags simply because of their material content – and I’m not talking about the paper, but the thin plastic film attached to it.

Unless you can separate the paper material from the foil and/or plastic, then you can recycle it.

I tried it myself and to my dismay, it was never near successful.

However, if you happen to find Starbucks coffee bean bags that are made only of rice paper, kraft paper, and even LDPE, then, you can recycle them.

Only these materials are safe and recyclable.

Using Them For Other Purposes

While you can’t recycle them as a whole, you can exert effort in separating the plastic from the paper for you to be able to use it for other purposes.

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The most common include:

  • Using them for seedlings
  • Repurposing them for DIY projects
  • Turning them into costumes
  • And many more!

Are Coffee Bags Reusable?

coffee bags reusable

In a general sense, coffee bags made from weaves of fabric such as muslin cloth are reusable.

That is actually the purpose of using these types of cloth – for you to be able to reuse them.

The major drawback in using these, though, is that the aroma, flavor, and overall quality might not be retained for longer times.

This is the reason why Starbucks coffee bags are strategically made to have thin plastic in their interior instead of plain paper.

Are Starbucks Coffee Bean Bags Biodegradable?

the starbucks coffee bean bags recyclable

So, if you can’t recycle them, are they at least good and healthy for the environment? I know, I had the same question, and the answer still depends.

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Biodegradable products are those that are broken down into carbon dioxide faster and more urgently compared to other types of products.

To help you understand it further, here are some of the best examples of materials and products that are biodegradable:

  • Plastic Bags
  • Different Types of Paper
  • Synthetic Fibers
These types of plastics that are biodegradable are the kinds of plastic that are eaten and digested by microbes. They’re not the typical plastic we see almost everywhere.

So, yes, it’s safe to say that the exterior of Starbucks coffee bags is biodegradable since the majority of the bags are made from paper.

The layer of plastic is kept thin and easier to process, which ultimately directs us to the point that it’s easy to break down.


questions about coffee bags

Here are other questions you might want answers to about Starbucks coffee bean bags and regular coffee bags.

Are Starbucks Coffee Bean Bags Compostable?

The short and easy answer is yes, they are. The thin lining of plastic is something that a specific setting could break down, and therefore, it is compostable.

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It may take some time to decompose (about 5 to 10 years), but still faster than traditional thick layers of plastic.

Can You Recycle Starbucks Food Bags?

Yes, the food bags that Starbucks offers are made from pure paper. In fact, these bags are actually recycled, too!

Starbucks has done a mark in the recycling world, and it has truly been appreciated by a lot of environmentalists.

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The Bottom Line

So, are Starbucks coffee bean bags recyclable? – It depends on the type of packaging you’re referring to.

So, no matter how amazing and beautiful Starbucks’ coffee bean bags are, think twice before you decide to recycle them because the thin piece of plastic is what makes the difference.