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McCullagh Coffee goes green as it readies for expansion Moves designed to save money, improve production efficiency

In the face of rising coffee prices worldwide, a local coffee roasting company is trying to be more green and save more green.

Bean costs have gone up 50 percent in a year for McCullagh Coffee, so the culmination of a two-and-a-half year project that increases efficiency and decreases environmental impact is just in time.

A "form and fill" machine with a $225,000 price tag should increase the production at McCullagh and allow the company to use eco-friendly packaging.

"Right now we use polypropylene packaging, which goes into a landfill and doesn't disappear. If you use our biodegradable, compostable film, it disappears and it doesn't cost more, it costs less," said Warren Emblidge Jr., McCullagh president and CEO. "Being sustainable means offering a product at the same price as a non-sustainable product, but that has the benefits of being good in origin."

The machine will also print using a biodegradable soy-based ink, Emblidge said.

The new machine will produce about 200 packages of coffee a minute, compared with 110 to 120 per minute produced by the earlier machine, said Dennis Gorski, director of McCullagh.

"The efficiencies brought about by the new packing machine will help us deal with the ever-increasing price of coffee," he said.

McCullagh received a $40,000 grant from Empire State Development for the new machine and a $10,000 incentive from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority because of the anticipated increases in energy efficiency the new machine will bring.

"Everybody talks about a partnership. What does it mean? How do you do it?" Emblidge said. "The critical thing is to create economic growth that's accompanied by job increases, employment increases, or maintenance of their jobs."

The form and fill machine is the first of a two-part investment, Emblidge said. The second part is a 6,600-square-foot warehouse expansion. In order to continue with phase two, which would bring the project cost to more than $1 million, the company would have to find another large customer, like its current customer Walmart, he said.

"This [first phase] will help us, put us in a better position, but nevertheless, phase two is dependent on another major customer," Gorski said.

Empire State Development will provide up to $60,000 in Economic Development Fund grants for phase two of the project.

e-mail: mtighe@buffnews.com

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