How Eco-friendly is Bird & Blend?
Although there has been a lot of noise about plastic and other eco-related matters in the news recently, we had to do our bit for the planet as it was one of our founding principles since Day 1! Driven heavily by Mike & Krisi themselves, leading positive change in the world around us is very important to us at B&B.
We get asked about the sustainability of our products all the time so we wanted to share them all with you so all your questions are answered in one place!
Bird & Blend has done it from the start!
From the very first day Bird & Blend was born, we wanted to make sure that our products were as eco-friendly as possible and we have always kept this idea in mind!
95% of our packaging is plastic free, recyclable or biodegradable* from our tea bags to the 50g Gift Packs and we aim to make that 100% by the end of this year (2020). So if you're looking for plastic-free tea bags then look no further!
So, what is everything made from and what can you do with them after use?
What are we doing well?
Tea bags! 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.
Did you know? 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!
Take away cups, lids and straws (both hot and cold versions): All fully compostable and made from a plant-based PLA material, derived from cornstarch.
Did you know? Cornstarch is a fully sustainable source, saving almost 80% of the amount of greenhouse gas and using less than half fossil fuel compared to plastic.
Instore sample cups: *Updated October 2018* These are now cardboard & compostable! *
Previously they were plastic but recyclable. We have 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).
Cellophane inners found inside our loose leaf gift tins + 50g gift cartons: These are not plastic! In fact, they are made from renewable wood pulp (did you know this was a thing?). 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!
Gift cartons, hot cup sleeves, paper bags and gift boxes: Fully compostable card/paper.
Till/ receipt rolls: Made from recycled paper and fully compostable.
20g and 50g pouches: These are our current challenge and the only item of our packaging that is not either made from recyclable materials or recyclable themselves. This is because they have a food-safe inner coating.
We use wood as much as possible to fit our stores:
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 staff shelves are recycled). Even new, the eco-impact of using wood as a material is way, way lower than any comparable material. In terms of CO2, wood obviously absorbs the stuff as it grows, then by cutting down the tree and building with it, you effectively store the CO2 in the wood and then plant a new tree to absorb more.
We’ve been making efforts recently to reduce this as far as possible as it is so much worse for the environment than the sea. As well as doing it ourselves, we’re working with suppliers to get them to reduce theirs.
In terms of us sending customers orders, we’ve looked into it and sea isn’t practical, BUT we use Royal Mail predominantly who send mail by purchasing spare capacity, i.e. anything we ship goes on a flight that was already flying and had space on it rather than dedicated flights. So it’s not adding to flights, and are making those happening more efficient.
*Although often used interchangeably there is actually a difference between compostable and biodegradable. In very simple terms biodegradable means that the material will break down within a reasonable time to a particle size small enough to not be harmful to the environment (e.g. animals can consume it, soil/sea isn't damaged by it).
The time period isn't defined but usually refers to a number of years. Compostable means that the material will breakdown naturally when placed in a 'compost' environment e.g. microbes, heat, oxygen etc. which is often considered the ultimate goal for planet-friendly packaging as it breaks down within 90 or so days and leaves no trace at all.
Green Electricity: We use green electricity in all of our stores, warehouse & office units and we offset any flights we have to make for work, to ensure we are doing as much as possible towards reducing carbon emissions.
We send as little to landfill as we can!
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 bags 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 is collected to be recycled across all sites leaving a very small amount of general waste - which goes to a local incinerator which turns it into fuel, using the rubbish in place of coal or gas to drive turbines and produce electricity.
We use the most eco-friendly waste companies in each store location, meaning as little is sent to landfill as posssible.
We encourage (and reward you!) when you support the environment too!
Free drink + 10% off for life with a BB E-coffee cups
Even though our take away cups are totally plastic-free + fully compostable we encourage you to go one step further and use a 'forever cup'. Our eco-cups not only look cool but are made from eco-friendly, biodegradable bamboo fibre! What’s even better is that when you buy one, you get free tea to take out straight away! After that, you can get 10% off hot drinks when you come into the store as a thank you!
Did you know? You can also bring any cup, thermos or vessel of your own and we will give you 10% as a thank you.
Reusable bamboo straws
Even though our straws are totally plastic-free + fully compostable we also sell reusable bamboo straws in all of our stores, which you can pop in your bag and use for your iced drinks. Just like bringing your own cup, if you bring your own reusable straw you also get 10% off your drink.
Bring your tin back in and get a refill at 10% off!
As you know, if you purchase 150g of tea you get your tin thrown in for free at B&B. We hope this will encourage you to bring it back and let us fill it up again for you next time - zero new packagings needed! As a thank you, yup you guessed it, we will give you 10% off your refill!
Did you know? You can also bring any jar, bag, tin or vessel of your own to be filled with tea and we will give you 10% as a thank you.
But, you don’t just have to fill it with tea, you could do we do at HQ and use it as a pen pot on your desk, you could fill it with your favourite sweets or biscuits, or you could be creative and make a DIY gift, the possibilities are endless!
You can also reuse our matcha tins by filling them with whatever you like! One of our personal favourite ways is to use it to make a tea-infused sleep balm.