We recently sent out an eco-survey to all of our customers and two things became immediately clear to us…
- There are some unanswered questions around our packaging, especially some of our plastic looking items
- We don’t shout nearly enough when it comes to our eco-friendly credentials!
Reducing waste & giving back to our planet has been one of our founding principles since Day 1, driven heavily by Mike & Krisi (our Founders) themselves, it has always been a part of the DNA of our business. You can read more about this over on our ‘How Eco Friendly is Bird & Blend?’ blog.
Please do read on to learn about the eco-credentials of each of our packaging components / eco products. You will see that we have noted not only the composition of the packaging itself but also the impact the manufacturing of these items has on our planet, which is really important too!:
Plastic Free Tea Bags
Made from: Soilon
💚 Compostable (can be put in home compost or food waste collection)
🏠 Home compostable
The big one - our tea bags are 100% plastic-free, 100% natural and 100% compostable*. They are derived from a cornstarch-based material called soilon. This means you won’t be seeing our tea bags hanging around our seas and landfills. AND, just as importantly for our environment the production of SOILON creates significantly less carbon than plastics too!
Did you know? 96% of tea drunk in the UK is being brewed in tea bags so we have an opportunity here to save (literally) tonnes of waste! There has been a lot of media attention surrounding the fact that the vast majority of tea bags on the mass market contain plastic, but our tea bags do not contain plastic and never have.
*Although compostable, your tea bags are better off in your food waste collection bin rather than in your garden compost heap.
In an industrial composter, with all the right microbes and conditions, they will be gone within a matter of months but at home, this would take nearer to a year. If you are really green-fingered and want to get the right climate in your compost then we recommend you speak to your local gardening experts who will be able to help you get your paws on the right soils needed to assist the breakdown in your box!
In store take away cups, lids and straws (both hot and cold versions)
Made from: PLA plant starch materials (100% renewable)
💚 Industrially compostable
❗ Can't be composted at home
From what our survey suggests, we haven’t been talking about our takeaway cups and our gift carton packaging nearly enough! Now, why are these so special?
Whilst our cold cups may look like conventional plastic, all of our in store consumables are fully compostable and made from a plant-based PLA material, derived from corn starch. We made the switch to paper straws too.
In store sample cups are made from cardboard & compostable!
Previously they were plastic but recyclable. We had been trying to find a material that will hold hot samples (most of the compostable options melt!) that are also a suitable small size (as the smallest card options are still three times as much material than we need). We achieved this and made the switch in October 2018.
Did you know? Corn starch is a fully sustainable source, saving almost 80% of the amount of greenhouse gas and using less than half fossil fuel compared to plastic.
Did you also know? We sell reusable bamboo straws and eco-cups in all of our stores & online too, which if you use in store, we will give you a 50p discount for using one (you can bring in other brands too)!
Did you also also know? We have a 'Tea for Trees' project where we've partnered with the World Preservation Foundation to plant a tree for every takeaway cup we sell, with 49,700 planted so far (as of December 2021). Find out more about Tea for Trees here.
Made from: Wood pulp
🏠 Home compostable
Found inside our 15 tea bag & 50g Gift Cartons, our tea sacs and matcha starter kits.
The plastic looking inner bag may look plastic but in fact, they are made from renewable wood pulp and are 100% compostable. This is produced using sustainable forestry techniques and, not only is it compostable, it actually enhances soil quality!
Manufactured entirely in the UK, saving on harmful CO2 emissions to transport them to us! We're looking to go one step further by moving these wood pulp inners into a compostable version, which is currently in testing!
Made from: Cardboard
Now onto our gift cartons! These are arguably our most impressive packaging, with it being plastic free and fully compostable all the way from the cardboard outer layer through to the tea bags inside (as mentioned previously).
If you wanted to purchase the most eco-friendly tea item, the loose leaf version of this is the way to go... as loose leaf uses less materials than the tea bags AND the packaging can be fully composted.
Pouches and Single Serve Teabags
Made from: Paper, and plants like eucalyptus and corn starch
🏠 Home compostable
Our pouches are used for our 20g sample, 50g pouch, 150g refill, 40 parcels, 100 parcels & 300g stash sizes, and we use single serve tea bag packaging for single tea bags.
From January 2022 they will be fully home compostable. The packaging is made from paper and plants like eucalyptus and corn starch, so it will break down into CO2, water, and biomass.
You can put these pouches in your home compost or local food waste collection. It is always best to cut it up into smaller pieces to help it biodegrade more quickly. They will take 26 days to fully compost in the right conditions in your home compost.
It is always good to check with you local council about food waste collections. A lot of councils may not take compostable packaging yet - what can we say, we're ahead of the game!
You can read about our efforts with this over on our 'How Eco Friendly is Bird & Blend' post.
Made from: TBC
💭 Bring back in store for a refill
One of the most sustainable ways to enjoy your favourite tea is in a tin. Tin metal one of the greenest materials due to the fact that it can be recycled an infinite number of times without losing many of it's properties. You can also just bring your tin back in to get a refill so no need to buy any extra packaging! It that wasn't enough to persuade you, they are also manufactured using solar power!
Our tins are sourced from a special family company who have been making tins since 1910! They are the oldest and last remaining tin factories in London.
You can read all about your eco efforts with this over on our 'How Eco Friendly is Bird & Blend' post.
Our paper bags, gift boxes and gift wrap are made with fully compostable card/paper. Our till/ receipt rolls are made from recycled paper but we are phasing these out, so none of our new stores have printers, all receipts are digital. The rolls are purchased from a supplier who works with trees for life and are BPA free.
Our pouch label stickers are currently not recyclable or compostable. We're working on this for next year.
The pouch label sticker needs to be able to be printed with all the tea details in our busy production unit and for our retail stores. This will require us not only finding the right sticker that is eco friendly but also the right printer. We also need to consider the speed of the printer so that we don't slow down our tea production team.
Compostable vs Recyclable
We've spent a lot of time researching and considering lots of different packaging options. It is always a trade off between the emissions associated with the manufacturing of the products and the potential emissions when it is thrown away.
Although the UK is currently better set up to deal with recycling plastics and therefore plastic options could provide a better option at the end of life. We have decided to invest mainly in compostable options, this is because it reduced the fossil fuels needed to create plastic and to recycle it. Bio packaging produces significantly less greenhouse gases over its lifetime.
It also reduces the harm that can be done to nature from littering. If plastic packaging ends up in our oceans or on land, it is likely to release toxins as it slowly breaks down.
Compostable items break down into water, CO2 and biomass - leaving no nasties and no microplastics. Even if they end up in landfill they do not release any methane, which is a very strong greenhouse gas.
However, this means that the trade off is that some of our compostable packaging isn't taken by all councils and waste managements companies. We always try to find some home compostable options where we can so that they are more likely to be in your food waste (if cut up smaller) and that they can be composted by more facilities.
As so many more businesses are making eco decisions and choosing compostable packaging we are confident that investments will be made in the UKs ability to process compostable packaging. This will provide us with the ultimate eco solution that reduces emissions at the manufacturing stage and at the end of life.
We also have the following going on, which you can read more about over on our How Eco Friendly is Bird & Blend' post:
- We are carbon neutral!
- We use wood for as much of our shop fits as possible and always have done. As far as practical this is recycled (i.e. most of our scaff shelves are recycled).
- We try to avoid shipping any goods via air and use use ocean freight shipping.
- We use green electricity in all of our stores, warehouse & office units and we really work hard to avoid flying but offset any journeys we have to make for work, to ensure we are doing as much as possible towards reducing carbon emissions.
- Across all of our stores, our office and warehouses we recycle as much of our waste as we possibly can. This means our stores have dedicated food waste / compost bins where all the tea leaves and compostable cups go into.
- Our stores also send as many of our cardboard boxes / bulk tea bag packaging back to our warehouses to be re-used up to 4 times (or until they are no longer sturdy enough) to save on waste.
- All of our cardboard in our warehouse is put through a shredder and re-used as packaging for our online orders.
- We have lots of refill rewards for bringing in your own containers to fill and using eco cups for takeaway drinks.
- We have a 'Tea for Trees' project where we've partnered with the World Preservation Foundation to plant a tree for every takeaway cup we sell, as well as increasing our reward to you for using your own cup - to a whopping 50p off! Find out more about Tea for Trees here.