Preparing the rolles for printing.
on November 23, 2010 by

Where Our Case Boxes Come From.

One of the things that is a real benefit of working with suppliers that operate nearby, is that learning more about what you are purchasing is just a short ride away. Today we headed out to Hillsboro, Oregon to take a tour of International Paper and watch some of our beautiful full color case boxes being printed. Keeping up with the growing demand for whole grains keeps us busy around the clock. It’s great to have a few good business nearby that can keep up with our packaging needs to help us get the products you want on store shelves.

We wanted to share with you some of our photos from the tour so that you can get a feel for how our emphasis on minimal packaging really adds up. When you consider that most products on the supermarket store shelves come packaged in an individual box, it’s easy to understand that doing something as simple as putting four bags in just one case box for shipping can make a real impact over time.

Because of the scale of the printing, much attention is paid to the pre-press process to eliminate any waste.

Because of the scale of the printing, much attention is paid to the pre-press process to eliminate any waste.

It is difficult to capture the enormous size of the press that prints our boxes, because it  larger than most houses.

It is difficult to capture the enormous size of the press that prints our boxes, because it larger than most houses.

Preparing the rolles for printing.

Preparing the rolles for printing.

Cameras monitor for any shifting during the printing process to catch errors before they become bigger problems.

Cameras monitor for any shifting during the printing process to catch errors before they become bigger problems.

Checking for printing errors under normal light.

Checking for printing errors under normal light.

Checking for printing flaws under a blacklight reveals any flaws that might be invisible under normal conditions.

Checking for printing flaws under a blacklight reveals any flaws that might be invisible under normal conditions.

These labels were zooming past!

These labels were zooming past!

A finished roll ready to be moved into the warehouse.

A finished roll ready to be moved into the warehouse.

Cassidy poses with a finished roll.

Cassidy poses with a finished roll.



Astoria Home Baker says:

I was very disappointed by the recent change from paper packaging to plastic packaging. Recyclable or biodegradable packing is very important to me. I consider this an important enough issue to change my product choice! Bob’s is a superior, regional product that I have been proud to support. I hope to see a more sustainable packaging return to your line product.

@Astoria Home Baker Thank you for your concerns. I will pass these comments along to those concerned. I am not sure that we will be going back to paper, but I know we are looking to find ways to make our packaging more sustainable.

Kenny says:

I too am disheartened to see plastic packaging.

Please go back to paper!

Michele Cornelius says:

I love your products and would purchase more but do not like the plastic packaging that can’t be recycled. Paper worked a lot better for me!

Sandie says:

Another vote for paper bags!

Rosemary Griggs says:

I buy your flour by the case and keep looking for a recyclable symbol on your plastic floor bags. I haven’t found one. It feels like one step forward and two steps back. Yes, we want organic floor grown with sustainable practices but the packaging must keep step with the product. It makes my skin crawl to just throw the bag in the trash. Can I send it back to your company?

I’m sorry, but our bags are not recyclable. You can send them back, but we aren’t able to recycle them either and it seems like a lot of fuel and postage to use just to get it back to us.

Emily Gaddis says:

Why not use biodegradable and compostable wood starch cello bags (Nature Flex produces this material in a carbon neutral facility) instead of petroleum based plastic cello? Seems like an obvious choice.

Jessie says:

I would love to buy your products if they were in paper packaging or cellophane (which is compostable too.)

Thank you for the suggestion. We’ll pass it along.

Emily Gaddis says:

I agree, Jesse. Wood starch cello is a better option. It would be great if Bob’s Red Mill had retailers collect the bags for composting. I would also want to know if the inks were biodegradable and non-toxic.

ridge gorman says:

People that care about organic, care about recycling, and abhor plastic products of all kinds. So, now, I too have to stop using Bob’s flour.

Patrick says:

I also vote for the old paper flour bags. I haven’t noticed any other company packaging their flour in such environmentally unfriendly packaging. It is disappointing that this company doesn’t seem to care about their waste and just passes it along to the consumer to deal with.

Susan says:

Add me to the list. Love your products but hate the plastic packaging. Please go back to paper. I will buy other products for now, but will keeping checking back to see if you’ve made the switch.

Jessica says:

I’m also team Paper. I want to buy more of your products but non recyclable plastic makes me cringe. I had no idea you switched from paper to plastic. I hope you go back to a more sustainable packaging.

Leanne says:

Another vote for recyclable packaging. I hadn’t realized the plastic packaging was not recyclable until recently. I can’t imagine throwing all that in the trash and will be on the lookout for other brands. I really like buying Bob’s, though, especially because of the variety of products!

Thank you for the feedback.

Yonina Gordon says:

I too hate to throw away the plastic bags–specifically the ones that your steel cut oats come in. It doesn’t look like the comments about plastic are moving your company needle, so another question: Is it possible to sell your steel cut oats, and possibly other products, in larger quantities. Then at least we’d be buying fewer packages, and throwing away fewer bags.


Thank you for your comments about our bags. We’ll pass them along. We do sell our steel cut oats in a 54 oz bag, but it’s typically only available on our website.

Yonina Gordon says:

Hi Cassidy–

I couldn’t figure out how to just send you an e-mail. You don’t have to post this. I didn’t know you had larger sizes available via your website, and it’s great that you do. But I wouldn’t order online when I can easily shop.

Best wishes.


Jennifer says:


My husband and I buy the Bob’s Red Mill all purpose flour (among other Bob’s Red Mill products) and realized that the bags appear to be plastic. Is this really true? Flour bags should be recyclable. I just noticed this and am so disappointed. My husband and I expect more from Bob’s Red Mill. Please think of the environment and the future and consider the garbage islands and layer of floating plastic in our oceans when you are making your products. We were born and raised in Oregon and my dad and step-mom have visited the mill and even took a photo with Bob at the restaurant. We really do love your products and expect more! Thank you!


Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. The bags we use for our flour are plastic. I will pass along your concerns about our packaging to the appropriate team.

Peter Butler says:

One more STRONG vote against the plastic packaging.

Yes, it was enough to make me switch brands, which was disappointing b/c Bob’s Organic Flour has been reliable for a while for me.

Rekha says:

I miss using Bob’s Red Mill products. The quality is far superior to any product I’ve used before, especially the hard to find grains and flours. But since my family adopted zero waste practices last year, we have skipped purchasing all your products. The amount of energy, use of petroleum and the expense to produce the single use, disposable packaging makes little sense to me. I’m sure there are reasons in favor of the product’s shelf life and preserving the flavor, but I don’t see how the current packaging is in favor of your company’s practices and passions with regards to our health when we are connected to the very environment, a polluted one, from which your grains are grown. Seems awfully disconnected when we care so much about organic and non GMO, but not about the added pollution to our environment that has a very real threat to our health. Many companies put the onus on the consumer when presented options are limited and simply unjust. Please consider reducing your impact on the environment. Please make your products available in bulk bins or in compostable packages. Please stand apart from other large, faceless companies that place the unfair burden on its customers with knowledge that most facilities will not recycle the product packaging. Refuse to practice like them, be accountable and take environmental responsibility. All it takes is one company to do the right thing and others will follow suit. Please continue to take the lead as your company already has in the quality and promise it delivers.

Thank you so much for sharing your concerns with us. I will make sure they’re passed along to the appropriate people. Many of our products are available in bulk bins, you would just need to check with your store.

Natasha Dorr says:

Like many of the people who commented, I used to buy Bob’s Red Mill products. But I am trying to minimize the amount of trash produced by our family, so I stay away from your products now. It would amazing for a company that claims to give great importance to using minimal packaging to also make their packaging recyclable, especially since many people who like your products care about the environment so much.

Thank you for your feedback, Natasha. I will pass it along.

Jill olson says:

So disappointed that you have chosen to switch to plastic bags for flour! Plastic is such a tremendous problem for our world. The paper bags worked just fine and I don’t see the sense in adding a non recyclable element by an otherwise environmentally conscious company. I sincerely ask you to PLEASE go back to paper bags!

Meredith says:

Just started using your artisan flour and it makes a superior bread; sad to learn the packaging is NOT recyclable. I am adding my vote for choosing a packaging material that is recyclable. I’m wondering about going back to the cotton sacking?
Please keep us posted on the effort to be earth friendly 🙂

Caroline says:

Love your products! Bummed about the plastic bags now, and not being recyclable. There are a number of other companies that have decided to make their packaging recycle-friendly – even some for drop-off with other plastic ‘films’. Here is some info. I found on the ‘howtorecycle’ website – “companies interested in joining the quickly expanding How2Recycle program can visit or contact The How2Recycle Label is a U.S.-based standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. How2Recycle is a project of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition®, a membership-based group that brings together business, educational institutions, and government agencies to collectively broaden the understanding of packaging sustainability and develop meaningful improvements for packaging solutions (

Thank you for sharing your concerns with us, Caroline. I will pass this info along to the appropriate people here.

I wanted to buy raisins for our food co-op, but we are committed to reducing packaging, or at least using products packaged in recyclable packaging, so I plan to post pone this purchase until Bob’s packaging is more sustainable. Thanks for considering.

Casey says:

Please please start using paper and cardboard packaging, I would love to buy your baking soda since I learned arm and hammer uses animal testing… their soda is in cardboard. I would much rather support your company but like other commenters, I try to reduce the amount of plastic I buy, especially if the packaging cannot be recycled!

Thank you. I will pass along your feedback.

Gustav says:

Let me know when you’ve gone back to paper packaging, or cellophane, with biodegradable (soya?) inks; then we’ll try your products again. Thank you.

Thank you for your feedback. At this time, we have no plans to move to paper packaging.

Thomas Clark says:

I bake bread regularly for myself and family. Usually, I turn out 3 to loaves a week using your spelt and other flours. Unfortunately, I also recently realized your plastics are non recycleable and I too will be going back to other options which are available in bulk or in paper. I would be more than willing to pay more for your product were it to come in recycleable packaging. I would buy in bulk if I could. In essence; please, take my money.

Tomasz Nalezinski says:

I am also disappointed in your change of packaging for flour from plain paper to plastic lined ones. I would like to add another voice asking for a return to paper or an alternative packaging that is easily recyclable/compostable.

Gordon Robbins says:

Hi Cassidy,

Thank you for monitoring this post area and ensuring our comments are noted.

Like everyone else in this forum, we are among the families who have made a very determined effort to reduce as significantly as possible our reliance on and use of plastics. We too buy Bob’s Red Mill products for their quality, and have been faithful customers through our local stores for many years.

Your responses have consistently said you’ll “will pass this info along to the appropriate people.” Can you help us understand who they are, and what the response(s) and feedback have been thus far? As you can see, many of us want to ensure we’re leaving as light a footprint on this planet as possible.

If it is not in the plans to move away from plastic (I understand the economics), can you help us understand any assessment/evaluation of other options that will enable us recyclable options?

Many thanks. My family and I look forward to your response.

Heidi Strander says:

I picked up a bag of Bob’s flour the other day, and have been searching for the recycling information from the bag. How can any company calling itself responsible not have recyclable packaging, especially PLASTIC of all materials?! I will not be purchasing any Bob’s products (unless at the bulk bins) until this issue is addressed. Sad, because I love your products, but please wake up to this issue.

Schmick Nick says:

I just LOVE your non-recyclable plastic packaging!!
-say none of your customers. Come on Bob!!!

Susan says:

As others have mentioned…love your products but abhor the plastic packaging.
Have you heard of Terracycling? Partner companies work with Terracycle to reuse/repurpose spent bags.
It would would be great for Bob’s Red Mill to go one step further and use either compostable or recyclable packaging materials for your products. Just sayin’.


Thank you for the suggestion. We appreciate your feedback and will definitely take this into consideration.

Ginger says:

Reading through these comments and the response is consistently “I’ll pass along the comments.” Like others have said, I love your products but as a parent I will no longer buy Bob’s until they ditch the unrecyclable plastic. All of the plastic in the photos above will only go into a landfill. WHY WOULD YOU NOT CHANGE THIS? One bag of oats done, and now the bag will go into the landfill. NOT WORTH IT. Your customers have been complaining FOR YEARS via this thread and you have done nothing to change or even give a good reason why you will not change. At least give us a $ amount of how much $ your company is saving by adding tons of trash to the landfill!

Shay says:

I see that this thread started seven years ago, with requests from customers to switch away from plastic packaging. But in seven years no change has been made. I rely upon Bob’s gluten-free flours to make my own celiac-friendly baked goods at home. But, like many of your customers, I simply cannot purchase food in plastic anymore. Two articles in The Guardian this week have made me determined to simply desist buying anything in plastic packaging:

Please find a way to change your packaging to something environmentally friendly. We all need to make serious changes…. now!

Thank you,
A loyal customer

We appreciate your feedback. We are constantly trying to improve to give our customers what they want. Thank you for taking the time to let us know your thoughts.

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