Join us on our green journey
Transparency is one of our core values at Joe’s Tea so we’ve created this page to openly document our green journey. Follow us as we interrogate every aspect of our business with the goal of becoming as green as we can possibly be. We’ll be keeping this page updated as we go and openly discuss the wins, the set-backs and the difficult road blocks.
Our current impact on the planet
We’re passionate about organic farming and have only ever traded 100% organic teas and herbal infusions. Why are we so passionate about it? Because organic farming is the only way to ensure that our planet is properly looked after through agriculture for the present and the future. Our ingredients have never even had a whiff of chemicals (fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides) and that keeps the ecosystems around the teas, herbs and spices as natural and happy as possible.
Strictly no GMO
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have had their DNA modified by humans through a process of genetic engineering. The dangers and risks of mass GMO farming to the planet is well documented and many countries have banned or restricted their use as a result. With no standardised regulations on the labelling of GMOs in packaging and ingredients means that it’s often difficult or impossible to know where they hide. We guarantee that none of our ingredients or packaging contain any GMOs.
The waste debate
For any business, packaging, waste and compostability vs costs and resources means decisions, and these decisions aren’t always easy to make. Our pyramid bags, strings and tags are recyclable, our boxes are made from FSC recyclable board but not compostable inks, and our inner plastic bags and our foil bags for foodservice are not recyclable. See below for how we’re working towards making our packaging fully compostable by 2020.
- Lee Holdstock, Soil Association
“When we make the decision to buy an organic product, we’re not always aware of the huge contribution we are making. Not only does organic farming deliver proven benefits for wildlife, but by avoiding use of high energy chemicals and encouraging practices that put carbon back in the soil, it also has significant potential to address climate change. Organic farming is great for people too, creating more jobs and reducing farm workers exposure to harmful pesticides. Not only does every pound you spend on organic get you a product you can really trust, but it’s a vote for a better future where food and farming are as it should be.”
Can you compost tea bags?
The con-postable debate continues and after months of research, we give you the facts on tea bag packaging.
What are our tea bags made from?
Our pyramid tea bag material is food-safe polyester that is fully recyclable. Simply empty the contents onto your compost at home or in your council collected food waste, and pop the bags into your normal recycling.
What are biodegradable pyramid bags made from?
Biodegradable pyramid bags are made from a bioplastic called PLA (polylactic acid), which in turn is made from a starch derived from genetically modified corn, see above for our stance on GMOs.
Why don’t we use biodegradable bags?
Biodegradable pyramid bags simply may be fully composted under the right conditions of heat, pressure and added enzymes. Your council (or waste contractor) must have the technology to do so, and if it doesn’t the teabags will be put into landfill or incinerated.
The biodegradable bags available on the market contain starch from GMO corn crops and so we won’t (and can’t under our Soil Association organic license) use them – see above for more info.
When bioplastics aren’t treated properly they can break down into dangerous microplastics creating a toxic plastic soup in our oceans. See David Attenborough’s “Blue Planet II” for the full lowdown on how terrible these are for the planet and ocean.
“In 2016-17 almost 40% of all local authority waste was incinerated, some 10 million tonnes. Although considered a greener option than landfill, it’s not as energy efficient as recycling plastic.” – BBC, The One Show, 28th February 2017
What’s the conclusion?
Our organic tea and ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced mostly from small hold farmers, always bought direct and fairly traded. The current pyramid tea bag options aren’t perfect but as a business we take a holistic approach and we’re constantly analysing our practices across the entire supply chain to promote continual improvement. The pressure is on for a manufacturer to create the perfect eco-friendly, biodegradable pyramid tea bag made without the use of GMOs and that is approved by the Soil Association, and as soon as this is available we will use it, immediately.
In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for our new loose leaf range launching very soon and check out our brew-in cups for a hassle-free loose leaf cuppa.
Join the debate and fight the fight
Plastic, polyester and PLAs aren’t the absolute enemy, they have lots of benefits including using less energy to manufacture than many alternatives, keeping food fresh for longer and therefore reducing waste, costing less to transport, and they don’t shatter. We need to ensure these materials aren’t used when not necessary and are recycled so that they can be used again. Ask your council or your waste contractor what they do with your waste, recycling and compostable materials, and put pressure on them to drive change if you’re not happy with their answers.
Our pledge from 2018 and beyond
2020 will see us switching to fully compostable inner packaging in our retail products by using Natureflex, a very clever plant based alternative to plastic. We don’t believe in wasting any materials so we have some stock to use up but we’ll keep you updated as to when you can see this on a shelf near you.
FSC and veg inks
We already use FSC (Forest Stewardship Council Certification) cardboard for most of our packaging and we’re working towards this being 100%. We will also start to use vegetable inks across all our retail packaging. This will mean that our retail outer packaging will be fully compostable.
Bags, tags and string
We are working closely with the top global pyramid bag material manufacturers for a compostable version and believe there will be an option available mid to late 2020. In the meantime, we will change our strings from polyester to compostable cotton string. The tags are a little more complicated because they need to be water resistant, we are reviewing alternative options and we’ll let you know here as soon as we have a solution.
Join us on our green journey
Stay with us by revisiting this page to see updates and keep an eye on our social media for honest and open discussions around all of these topics (@JoesTeaCo).
We will keep asking questions about all our business practices, products and materials, and we’ll continue to strive to make the best decisions for the planet and for you, our customers.
We will keep you updated and will always be happy to answer any questions that you have about any of our products, materials or business practices.
Email us at email@example.com if you can’t find the answer to a question on this page.