It’s estimated that over 60 billion coffee capsules are sent to landfill each year, where they’ll remain for up to 500 years. In 2019, 4WKS founders Daniel, Oliver and Lulu decided they wanted to challenge both the wastefulness of single-use capsules as well as the coffee inside them. They set out to create a new kind of coffee capsule (also known as pods) — one that would be filled with freshly-roasted coffee from the best local coffee roasters and could match convenience with environmental consciousness. In other words: pods that were better for people and the planet.
Their idea led them to create 4WKS, which packs and distributes fully compostable coffee pods filled with freshly-roasted coffee from six of South Africa’s top local micro-roasters: Deluxe Coffeeworks, Father Coffee, Naked Coffee, Rosetta Roastery, Truth Coffee Roasting and Terbodore Coffee Roasters. From the beginning, the sustainably-focused company has had a zero-waste approach to packaging. For first-time customers, 4WKS sells 30 pods in a sealable, refillable glass jar. Thereafter, customers can order refills from 4WKS’ online shop, or purchase from roaster cafés.
Not giving in to the traditional plastic packaging widely available in the coffee space, 4WKS initially used a brown paper bag for its refill packaging. However, it was evident that a better material was needed to protect the freshness and integrity of the coffee, as well as to help the start-up scale.
After a year of product development with TIPA, 4WKS innovated a fully compostable refill packaging solution: the 4WKS Pod Pouch. In addition to storing pods on shelf and as a refill, the purpose of the pouch goes a step further. It has been designed with the intent to shift customer’s waste habits and to encourage composting their pods at local compost facilities, as opposed to going to landfill. This means that, once opened, the pouch is used as a storage carrier for used coffee pods and the entire pouch — coffee and pods included— can be composted as a unit, and will return to Earth in as little as 3 months.
4WKS was able to achieve this with the necessary material science from TIPA, knowing specifically that the laminate would provide the necessary oxygen barrier required as well as look-and-feel, design and overall execution.