Ladysmith coffee company believes it is the first to offer new biodegradable bags

Gulf Islands Roasting Co. is moving to a new 300-gram bag that is 100-per-cent biodegradable.

Sharon Hull and Steve Brock display the Gulf Islands Roasting Co.’s new biodegradable coffee bags.

Sharon Hull and Steve Brock display the Gulf Islands Roasting Co.’s new biodegradable coffee bags.

While Gulf Islands Roasting Co. has always prided itself on what’s inside their bags of coffee, the three partners in the Ladysmith coffee roasting company are pretty excited about the bag itself.

Gulf Islands Roasting Co. (GIRC) is moving to a new 300-gram bag that is 100 per cent biodegradable.

The new bags only break down in the presence of microbes in soil or water, explained roastmaster Steve Brock, who is partners with Campbell McIntyre and Sharon Hall in the company.

“It’s biodegradable in any landfill, lake, stream, ocean or compost in your backyard in three months,” he said. “This means you can just throw it away, and it doesn’t have to be separated.”

The bag is not made from food-based commodities like corn, soybeans or rice, and it turns back into dirt in three months, explained Brock.

“We’re really excited about our new bag,” he said. “We believe we’re the first people in B.C. to put that bag on grocery store shelves.”

With the new bag comes new labels, created in Nanaimo, that feature the brand on the front and which introduce new date stamp codes. The bags are vented with a whiff valve in the back to keep the bag fresh, and they are re-sealable.

GIRC has been roasting in Ladysmith at In the Beantime Café for just over three years.

“We roast coffee that’s grown in Thailand,” explained Brock. “Our coffee is grown between 900 and 1,200 metres above sea level, which lends to a very mellow, rich cup of coffee, and I roast it so there’s no bitter aftertaste.”

GIRC’s coffee is all roasted by hand and bagged by hand.

The coffee is roasted using a vintage roasting machine that spent most of its life in Europe before making its way over to Vancouver Island.

The roasting machine is about 45 years old. It was built in France and then moved to the Channel Islands and then to Dublin. The machine was sold to Wales and then made its way to Vancouver, where a friend of Brock’s used it and eventually sold it to Brock. Brock entered a partnership with McIntyre and Hall, and they restored the rust-damaged machine back to working condition.

Another green initiative for Gulf Islands Roasting Co. is using refillable bins when supplying coffee to local cafés and groups, rather than bags. As well, their delivery van runs on propane.

“We’ve been environmentally-conscious from the get-go,” said Brock. “We’d like to thank everybody for their support, and we’re trying to support them by doing the right thing for the environment.”

GIRC coffee is sold in many local retail outlets in Ladysmith, Chemainus and Duncan, as well as across Vancouver Island and the mainland.

“We’d like to thank our customers for following our brand and for their support overall, and the support of our retail partners is important to us,” said Brock. “We’re always trying to improve on the making the brand different from everybody else.”