How can I reuse or recycle plastic coffee bags?

coffee bagsWe buy all our tea and coffee from Just Coffee People. Contrary to one interpretation of their name, they don’t just sell coffee – they sell tea (black and herbal), sugar and hot chocolate/cocoa – and it is all AWESOME. The Tanzanian tea is the best we’ve ever tasted – it’s spoilt us for every other type of tea – and I’ve heard the same thing said about the coffee by other caffeine fiends. Plus, as well as helping growers overseas through the Fairtrade programme, it’s a socially inclusive company focused on community regeneration, providing trading and employment for people with all sorts of disabilities.

(Unfortunately it’s a Yorkshire-only operation at the moment – they’ll either deliver your stash to your door or you can buy it at various places around Leeds.)

Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning it here is because of the packaging: like lots of fresh coffee these days, everything comes in plastic bags. Whatever can be done with them?

I know my favourite wire woman Alison Bailey Smith uses coffee bags (as well as other random packaging) in her work – and the Just Coffee People ones are a lovely dull gold so crafty ideas are a definite possibility – any other ideas?

(Some details about the type of coffee bags I’m talking about in case you’re unsure: they’re quite a thick but flexible, heavy duty opaque plastic. Most are gusset type bags, around 8-10cm (3-4inches) in width, just less than that deep and about 15cm (6inches) or so tall. Most of the ones I’ve seen aren’t ready resealable – we just use a peg on ours.)

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24 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle plastic coffee bags?”


  1. The most obvious thing I can think of is cutting them up and using them on hand-made Christmas cards. You can cut them into star shapes, etc.

  2. Anonymous says:

    use it as wrapping paper or recycle it

  3. Mary says:

    I often use them as lunch bags (instead of paper bags) for the kids.

    • jeff hardy says:

      MARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Renee L says:

    Put candies in them and find another way to seal it up. For example, cut out your own paper flap (make it look pretty). Fold it over your coffee bag, and staple it.

  5. they would make great plant bags

  6. feli says:

    I saw this blog once where she collects these bags from her local starbucks and make recycle note books out of them.

  7. aaron says:

    Thanks for the great tips.

  8. Ian Hopper says:

    I take mine to a local coffee shop and have them refill it. When it’s too late and the local supermarket is still open I take it in and refill from the bulk bins. I think the main problem with reusing them for my sons lunches is the coffee flavor permeating the food: he does NOT like coffee!

  9. Amy says:

    Do you know if they can be recycled? I was thinking of bringing mine back to Starbucks to see if they could reuse or recycle.

  10. Thanks Louisa for the nice mention. I am actually using coffee bags in a different porject that I am experimenting with. I am using paper punches and pushing them to the extreme and trying to cut stuff I shouldn’t like COFFEE Bags and toothpaste tubes to create rosette -like brooches with bottle tops. It is great using repeat patterns with materials like that even if it is printed on. The coffee bags are thicker and more plasticised than most foils and are perfect, also wine bag bladders.

    • louisa says:

      Oooh, I’ve been paper hole punching plastic bottles of late and not had a lot of success (plastic too thick/decorative punch a bit crap) – but those plastic bags would work a treat. Another great idea, thanks Alison!

      -louisa :)

  11. I have found one brand that works particlurly well. I think it is called X Cut. A bit more heavy duty. It was on special offer at our local fabric shop but absolutely perfect. Don’t try to get a design that is too complicated as more can go wrong. If the plastic gets jammed between the two plates of metal it is possible to rip it out and then push the metal back from below. Normal paper puch can be used for making sequins.

  12. kittykat says:

    There is an environmentally friendly product called “GOO GONE” that you can use to easily get the labels off these bags, which leaves you with a big piece of heavy gold plastic. I have a friend who opens them up and attatches ties and makes bibs for her baby. Also, Christmas is probably the time of year when the most refuse is sent to the landfill so I think that anything that can be repurposed for holiday use (like golden stuff)
    should be hoarded. The money you save by not having to buy stuff like decorations or wrapping can be spent on gifts! Also, they can be washed and used for Easter, St. Valentines day………..

  13. kittykat says:

    Make yourself a batch of different kinds of homemade cookies (that go good with coffee) and use the bags to store them in so they stay fresh.

  14. Helene says:

    Why not make some candy wrapper bags and baskets? My sister and I made a quick danish guide with pictures at our blogspot. It is possible to translate the text with Google Translate:

    How to make bags:
    http://genbrugblirguld.blogspot.com/p/tasker-af-plastikemballage.html

    A picture of my first basket:
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_JAfCHIIV9Ws/S8yUl8TUM6I/AAAAAAAAAGk/1xGQUMTIuzM/s1600/Stor+kurv,+store+tern,+r%C3%B8d+og+gr%C3%B8n+og+brun+og+sort,+kaffeposer.JPG

  15. All,
    I recyle (and searching for) used empty coffeebean foilbags from 1 kG (Italian branding!)for making Italian Coffee Handbags (www.italiancoffeehandbags.nl).
    I need a lot of used bags, maybe you all can help me (and support the enviroment).
    By the way: Manetti Caffe (www.manetti.nl) is using coffee bags wich are compostable!!
    Let me know.
    Saluti,
    Alessandro Di Lella
    The Netherlands

  16. Olia says:

    Store stationary in them, so your cards and envelopes smell like coffee.

  17. varositulelo says:

    im a plastic coffeebag recycler from professionel ;) take a look on my page facebook.com/varositulelo
    thats are pockets and holders, bags and many more.. : )
    The name ‘varositulelo’ takes urban survivor in Hungary.

  18. Olia says:

    During winter gather in them dried used coffee grains, so you fertilize rose bushes and other acid loving plants in a spring.

  19. I recycle the Italian coffee bags, please take a look on my blog
    http://fresasatraicion.blogspot.it/
    or my etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/shop/artstylelili?ref=pr_shop_more
    thanks
    Lili



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