The Scoop on Tea Packaging and Sustainability
Tea is a subject close to our hearts. Our purpose is to get more people to enjoy the wonderful goodness of fine teas, and all the associated benefits of health. Part of this objective of contributing towards healthier living is a commitment towards sustainability and reducing environmental impact, and a key contributor to this is product packaging.
When we started Wodehouse Tea, the question of how to package our products is one that we worked on extensively. The first objective that our packaging needs to fulfill is preserving the tea safely, without compromising its freshness. The second, equally important objective, is to have the lowest environmental impact currently possible. To that end, we considered a variety of options, including glass bottles, plastic containers, and metal cans. Ultimately, the data led us to choose flexible stand-up pouches, for a variety of reasons which we thought we'd explain in this post.
One of the options that seemed appealing was using glass containers, but there were several issues to consider. For instance, glass is generally transparent, and exposure to light is not an optimal condition to store tea. Also, glass is heavy, fragile, and cannot be compressed. This means it consumes more space and energy (fuel) to store and transport. As it turns out, glass also requires more energy to manufacture in the first place, and quite a lot of energy to melt and recycle.
In contrast, metal tins (such as aluminium) are a lot lighter, use less energy, and offer lower CO2 emissions over the lifespan of the packaging. They also have the benefit of being opaque to light. However, even assuming a recycle rate of about 60%, metal cans still represent a higher level of CO2 and energy consumption when compared with stand-up pouches. In fact, according to a Fres-co study, stand-up pouches use over 7 times less energy than glass containers and 6 times less energy than metal tins. They also lead to CO2 emissions that are over 11 times and 14 times lower than metal and glass, as explained in the table below.
However, we are aware of the disadvantages of the stand-up pouches. Firstly, because their construction involves three layers that are glued together, they are difficult (though not impossible) to recycle. And secondly, although reusable, stand-up pouches are not biodegradable.
All things considered though, they offer the lowest environmental impact of the options currently available. We know we aren't perfect, but we are committed to staying abreast of developments to adopt the most environmentally friendly practices. You can be sure to hear more from us on this topic.