In October, Guayaki Yerba Mate’s new San Mateo and Traditional Loose Yerba Mate ‘teas’ featuring new compostable and biodegradable packaging will appear on store shelves around the country. In their quest to create the ‘greenest’ packaging possible, Guayaki learned about a technology called NatureFlex that is created by Innovia Films. Guayaki worked with their eco-minded friends at Superfood Snacks (www.superfoodsnacks.com) and Innovia to pioneer the first retail products that use this technology in a flexible stand-up bag format.
For more than a decade, Guayaki Yerba Mate (www.guayaki.com) has been shaking up the beverage industry with innovative product development and environmental breakthroughs. The company’s paradigm-shifting Market Driven Restoration business model which helps protect the rainforests of South America has served as a successful example for other aspiring socially responsible businesses to follow. The award-winning company has also created a bevy of organic drink ‘firsts.’ Guayaki has catapulted invigorating rainforest yerba mate onto the mainstream beverage scene by creating styles of the South American drink that people on this continent prefer, including: the first bottled Organic Yerba Mate Drinks, the first Mate Latte Concentrates, and the first espresso yerba mate. Earlier this year, Guayaki opened the first Yerba Mate “Bar” in Sebastopol. Most recently, Guayaki announced the first ‘carbon subtracting’ products in the marketplace. Now, Guayaki is leading the way in green packaging technology.
The new bags for San Mateo and Traditional Loose Yerba Mate are made of 2 layers of cellophane and foil films and are printed using water-based inks. The outside layer of the colorful package is transparent cellulose, and the inside film layer is made of cellulose with one side coated with a microscopic layer of aluminum that serves as a barrier to light, oxygen and moisture. The outside cellulose layer is printed so that the eco-friendly water-based inks are trapped between the layers so that the ink can not scratch off. The foil side is facing the outside so that the product inside is only in contact with the transparent cellulose layer.
Although cellophane films and aluminum foils are not new packaging concepts, the process for producing metalized cellulose films that are compostable and biodegradable and have the ability to be strong and flexible is truly groundbreaking. First marketed in the U.S. in the 1920’s, cellophane was the most popular packaging film until the 1960’s. That was when poly based products began to dominate the packaging market. In today’s more environmentally-conscious market, cellophane is returning to popularity because it is 100% biodegradable. Unlike the man-made polymers in plastics, which are largely derived from petroleum, cellophane is a natural polymer made from cellulose, a component of plants and trees. The raw material for NatureFlex, the cellophane material that Guayaki is using, is a renewable wood-pulp sourced exclusively from plantations following sustainable forestry principles.
Aluminum acts as a very effective barrier to light, oxygen, odors, flavors, moisture, and bacteria. The Guayaki bags are designed to provide the freshness benefits of an aluminum barrier, using the minimal amount of material necessary. This NatureFlex film is the only metallized biodegradable film suitable for home composting because the level of metal is miniscule (by overall composition less than 0.02% of the bag). The microscopic layer is 1 micron thick, as opposed to the much thicker 180 ml sheets used by most coffee companies. In the Earth's crust, aluminum is the most abundant (8.13%) metallic element, and the third most abundant of all elements (after oxygen and silicon). However, because of its strong affinity to oxygen, it is almost never found in the elemental state; instead it is found in oxides or silicates. In the decomposition process, the thin coating of aluminum oxidizes and turns into aluminum oxide which is inert and non-toxic.
Tests have shown that the average total time for complete bio-degradation of cellulose film is from 80 to 120 days for coated cellulose products. Even materials which are thought of as highly degradable, like paper and green leaves, take longer to degrade than cellulose film products. Conversely, plastics, polyvinyl chloride, polyethene, polyethlene terepthatlate, and oriented-polypropylene show almost no sign of degradation after long periods of burial. The NatureFlex films are fully FDA & EU food-approved and certified compostable to the ASTM 6400 and EN-13432 standards.
A Darker Shade of Green - Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by Drinking Guayaki’s San Mateo
San Mateo Loose Yerba Mate is a ‘carbon subtracting’ product. This eco-feat is due primarily to the vast carbon sequestration that occurs in the vibrant rainforest where Guayaki’s yerba mate is sourced. Each 16-ounce pack of organic, shade-grown and fairly-traded San Mateo Loose Yerba Mate achieves a subtraction of 573 grams of carbon. The independent assessment was performed by Conscious Brands™ (www.consciousbrands.com) in accordance with the CarbonLabels.org standard. Growing Guayaki Yerba Mate in the natural rainforest absorbs 875g, while the carbon emissions from processing and transportation are much less: 220g processing, 11g packaging and 71g transportation.
Guayaki’s award-winning Market Driven Restoration business model directly links their customers’ purchases to their partner farming communities in the Atlantic Rainforests of South America. Guayaki’s partners sustainably harvest organic yerba mate in the rainforest, generating a renewable income stream which enables the local communities to improve their lives and restore their lands. Sustainable yerba mate agriculture within the rainforest is a robust, long-term economic alternative to the destructive land use practices which threaten the region, such as vast soy plantations, clear cut logging and cattle grazing. Founded in 1997, Guayakí is the leading provider of organic, fairly-traded, rainforest-grown yerba mate in North America with products sold at thousands of natural foods stores, cafes and supermarkets. www.guayaki.com.