As a new employee, I’m fascinated by the process of making coffee. Everything is brand new and filled with mystery. For me, and I think probably you, the biggest mystery of all is the Bio-Degradable OneCup™.
My first question was, why make a bio-degradable OneCup™?
The story starts with a 27-year veteran of the Rogers Family Company and no, he isn’t a Rogers.
Tom Garber, VP of Innovation & Implementation, was tasked by the Rogers to bring the OneCup™ to market as an environment-friendly single serve coffee product.
The process started in 2011 when the Rogers Family Company was approached by a customer asking if we could come up with an alternative to the popular single serve coffee product. Tom’s job was then to challenge and press our vendors to create the machine that would be the catalyst for this new product.
After many attempts, Tom finally found success with a company in Italy.
The machine produced a single serve coffee with 33% less packaging; the team was excited but not happy. A 100% bio-degradable product was and remains the goal.
BIO-DEGRADABLE — capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.
My second question was, what makes the OneCup™ bio-degradable?
Tom approached the OneCup™ product as a whole, but focused on the individual elements to independently become bio-degradable.
First was the plastic ring. The team played with hundreds of different thicknesses and materials until they found the one that worked … a 100% plant-based ring.
Next, Tom worked on the “mother bag” — the bag that holds the OneCups™. Originally this outer bag was made with three layers of plastic. Today, it is made of 100% bio-degradable transparent paper, and we have been in production with this material since June 2013.
It took Tom six months and the team tested nine different films, but they finally found one that would become 100% bio-degradable without compromising its freshness.
In April 2013, the OneCup™ became 95% bio-degradable.
Then came the tough part, attaching a paper film lid to a plant-based ring. According to Tom, “it was amazing how our vendors worked with us to solve this problem. And after almost one year of research and testing, we finally had a solution of taking us to a 97% bio-degradable OneCup™.”
Finally, Tom is working on the filter paper, or SMASH, that holds the coffee. He says, “I won’t be happy until I get that last bit and create a 100% bio-degradable product. We have played with nine different materials, and we are very close.”
So let’s break it down in simple terms.
The OneCup™ is currently 97% Bio-Degradable, and the following are the elements of the OneCup™:
- The Box = (Bio-Degradable)
- The Ring = Plant-Based Material (Bio-Degradable)
- The Mother Bag = 100% Transparent Paper (Bio-Degradable)
- The Lid = Transitioning to Paper-Based (Bio-Degradable)
- The SMASH = Poly Mesh (Not bio-degradable) YET.
Now, here was my final question.
Why should anyone care about this bio-gradable product? Yes, asking this question was a gamble considering I’m a new employee, but hey, you gotta test the boundaries, right?
The simple answer as interpreted by me is this. A large company has the ability to make changes to an industry by simply deciding to do so. The Rogers Family Company grows, roasts and packages coffee for you, the consumer. At each of those stages, choices are made, i.e. where the bean comes from; how we treat the farmer; the process of roasting; the focus on creating high quality as opposed to just churning out a product; and the choice of material in packaging.
This company made a conscious choice to find material that not only made the product cheaper to produce, hence cheaper retail price, but also that was environment-friendly. They put up their own cash and said, “we are going to solve what we see as a problem”, i.e. billions of plastic single serve coffee containers going into landfills for who knows how many hundreds of years.
If you don’t have to contribute to a problem, why would you? That’s the corporate mentality. They are problem solvers, not creators.
I, for one, am impressed. Four weeks ago, I had no idea this company existed, now here I sit telling you this amazing story of the very first 97% Bio-Degradable single serve coffee known as OneCup™.
I couldn’t be prouder to work for a company with such a commitment to elevating an industry and bringing the customer along for the ride.
As Tom describes it, “the moment the OneCup™ was created, the company was determined it would become environment-friendly. It’s just the right thing to do!” After nearly two years of research and development, countless hours and thousands of airline miles, the OneCup™ is on its way to be 100% Bio-degradable.
The Rogers Family Company proudly says, “Toss your OneCup™ with a clear conscience”.