eNewsletter Winter 2019

Peterborough Environment Capital

All about the bag!

Peterborough Reuse has the circular economy concept in the bag with its practical, stylish and unique shopping bags made from used coffee bean sacks.

Peterborough Reuse takes hessian and jute sacks that would otherwise go to waste and turns them into shopping bags. The sacks are originally used to ship coffee beans from around the world to local roasting and packing firm Masteroast. The initiative has created part time work opportunities and the chance to learn new skills for long term unemployed women in Peterborough.

Masterminding the operation is Pav Patel, Director of a telecoms and IT solutions business. He explains: “We have unfortunately become a throwaway society that finds it cheaper to buy new than make good things that are either too old or broken. This not only harms our environment, but also reduces our ability to use the previous generation’s practical skills of repair and restoration".

The process starts with the collection of more than 1400 coffee bean sacks every week, varying in design, consistency and make up. Once the bags are collected they need to be cleaned without losing their valuable integrity, including the bright coloured logos from the individual coffee plantations. The highest quality, more refined bags, are then sent to be made into retail items like shopping bags and the rougher, coarse bags are used for making log sacks for the forest industry and items for various environmental river projects.

Peterborough Reuse have worked with the Department of Work and Pensions to set up a series of courses to get long term unemployed women in Peterborough back into work by up-skilling them. This has been achieved by taking the work and associated teaching into the local community, directly breaking down the barriers that would exist had the women had to travel to a new environment outside their comfort zone. Over a six week course, sixty women were taught how to use a sewing machine, working with patterns to cut and sew various items. By the end of the course they had learned new skills, grown in confidence and felt better about themselves. 

In addition, local charity shops supply Peterborough Reuse with excess fabric that would otherwise be sent to Africa for ragging. This provides the charity shops with a sale that is worth more than ragging and it is also better for the environment.

While all the retail bags are called the Peterborough Bag, there are no two bags the same, the word unique truly does describe these bags. Other items can also be commissioned by contacting Peterborough Reuse. Customers have even been asking for the sacks and upcycling them into various items themselves, such as draft excluders, dog beds and pinning them on the wall for a bespoke look!

Peterborough Reuse also recently showcased its circular products at the Smart City Expo event in Barcelona where Peterborough was voted World Smart City in 2015.

The Peterborough Bag is available from the Peterborough Reuse website or the Visitor Information Centre, 41 Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HA. For more information visit:





No comments have been left for this article

Have your say...

Your name will be published alongside your comment but we will not publish your email address.

All comments will be reviewed by a moderator before being published.

The Environment Capital is led by: