We see that word thrown around everywhere – if something is made of bamboo or can be repurposed as a wind chime someday, companies call it a “sustainable” option. If a café switches to compostable straws, that café can call that a “sustainability” program. It seems to be an umbrella term that covers anything, as long as the negative environmental impact isn’t immediately obvious. Even big oil companies have sustainability programs. Like so many buzzwords, we have no practical definition and no clear gauge of success for an individual or small business. When Baratza made a strong commitment to revisit our sustainability program this year, we found that first we needed to create a definition for ourselves and set our own goals for reducing our environmental impact.
The bottom line is – we manufacture and sell coffee grinders. So in a consumption-fueled world, how can Baratza not be part of the problem?
Our sustainability journey began with our very first grinder design. This intentional design allowed us and our customers to easily fix a grinder instead of dumping it. We engineered parts to be accessible and affordable to encourage repair. This not only benefits our planet but increases the value of your purchase.
The repair program was launched as a solution for Baratza users that aren’t too confident with repairs and would prefer us to repair their grinder. To this day, we charge a flat fee, by model, to update all broken or worn parts, clean, and return the grinder with a new lease on life. We keep our repair fee as low as possible to encourage folks to select a repair over a new unit, which keeps their old unit alive and out of the landfill.
One of our biggest priorities for our grinders is that they are repairable at home and that parts are made accessible. We sell almost any part a user might need on our website, and for rarely needed parts, our support team can make them available as needed.
The decision to price our parts as low as possible is also key here. Making the parts available is one thing, but making them affordable is what makes an at-home repair a no brainer. Our sustainability journey began with our very first grinder design. This intentional design allowed us and our customers to easily fix a grinder instead of dumping it. We engineered parts to be accessible and affordable to encourage repair. This not only benefits our planet but increases the value of your purchase.
Selling parts at an affordable price is great, as long as people know what to do with them! We’ve found that the key to making home repairs possible is to provide excellent guidance through the process. Our team of support experts is available for email & phone assistance, but we have also invested in creating PDF guides and videos that walk the user through nearly any repair they might encounter.
Our exploded view diagrams show every part in every grinder model and where that part lives. Exploded views are great tools for locating a part that needs replacing, and are useful for technicians outside Baratza. The exploded views have been especially helpful for our global partners, who can now pinpoint and order the exact parts they need.
Recycling Initiative (April 2019)
We took a good hard look at our internal habits around waste. It was clear we needed to invest in educating ourselves about our local recycling options in Bellevue, Washington. Our goal was to be more responsible about what we throw into the big blue bins. Over the course of a few months, we learned how to properly clean, DRY, and sort our recycling. MOST importantly, we stopped the detrimental practice of tossing everything in the recycling bin in hopes it gets recycled: AKA “aspirational recycling”.
Scrap Metals (May 2019)
Through research and exploration over almost two years, we created a system that allows us to divert thousands of pounds of scrap aluminum, zinc, steel, & copper from the landfill. We now partner with Pacific Iron & Metal, a local Seattle recycling company, to pick up our scrap metal and electronics and responsibly recycle them.
Plastic Management (July 2019)
Plastic film (i.e. plastic bags, bubble wrap, mailers, air pouches, etc) often ends up in curbside recycling bins. Most recycling centers do not have the ability to recycle plastic film, and furthermore, those items can clog their machines causing delays and extra work. To make things worse – there isn’t much clear messaging out there about what to do with plastic bags, and it varies by municipality. We decided to partner with Styro Recycle in Kent, Washington to responsibly recycle our clean plastic film. They pick up pallets of clean, dry film from us and turn it into plastic products such as decking.
Beautiful Brown Box
Traditional packaging is designed around plastics, styrofoam, and glossy retail boxes that require extra protection during shipping and ultimately end up in landfills. These materials can take hundreds of years to break down which is why we want to break from producing packaging that harms our shared environment. We are committed to incrementally removing wasteful plastic and unnecessary material. Instead we’re prioritizing eco-friendly materials that are just as good at making sure your grinder arrives safe & sound. Isn’t that beautiful?
The BBB packaging program was piloted only in North America for the Vario+ line in 2021. Plastic has been removed and we’ve combined the retail + shipping box to reduce total packaging. Over time, we hope to apply our learnings to other grinders and roll out these changes slowly but surely.
Specialty coffee depends so much on the health of our planet. As we find better solutions, Baratza is committed to taking steps that we hope will make a difference. The next step is yours. Please reuse or recycle.
As a consumer, you are presented with thousands of terms, symbols, and policies that can make navigating sustainable living difficult. If you’ve just purchased a Baratza grinder, it’s our goal to make sure that the materials used in our packaging are sent to the right facilities. That way, we reduce our impact on landfills!
The following resources are for customers in the US. Please check with your local government’s recycling authority for best practices in your area!
Recycling laws vary by locality. As a general rule-of-thumb, clean, rinse, and dry recyclable plastics before placing them in the bin!
Call2Recycle.org – Laws by state
EPA.gov – Federal laws
Just because the green “chasing arrows” symbol is on an item, doesn’t mean that it can get recycled! Get up to speed below:
GoodHousekeeping.com has a simple breakdown of the (many) different recycling symbols out there.
The Process of Recycling
The recycling process is complex and ill-equipped for the needs of our society today. By doing our part to properly sort our waste, we can collectively make a massive impact and make recyclers more efficient.
EPA.gov/recycling offers a great overview of federal recycling standards.
BPIworld.org has an excellent resource for understanding what can and cannot be composted.
EcoWatch’s recycling tips and guidelines are as easy as it gets!
NPR produced this fascinating documentary about the complicated recycling industry. Watch now!