In our previous articles, we described how Numi Tea is leading the way in sustainable packaging and how it has overcome certain challenges to introduce the use of “bio wrap” to package its tea products.
A recap of the previous articles shows that tea bags are currently made of PET which is not biodegradable. Numi Tea has been exploring alternative methods of sustainable and environmentally friendly tea packaging. After several years, Numi Tea came across a plant based “bio wrap” that is currently being used by Alter Eco to package foods such as quinoa. However, the bio wrap cannot immediately be used for tea packaging. There are several tests that need to be performed to assess the performance of the bio wrap before it can used in tea packaging.
One of the major challenges that Numi Tea encountered was the cost of purchasing the bio wrap. It used the notion of “economies of scale” to lower the cost of purchasing bio wrap. Numi Tea formed a coalition called One Step Closer to an Organic and Sustainable Community (OSC2) which comprises of organizations with the mission to tackle long term climate change. One of the programs of the OSC2 is the ‘Packaging Collaborative’. This program created an advisory team to share knowledge regarding compostable packaging and as a result, led to a cost reduction in purchasing bio wrap. This was possible due to bulk purchases from the OSC2 for its members.
The success of the Packaging Collaborative triggered the leaders of the companies involved to then join resources to mitigate climate change. This in turn gathered the interest of larger companies such as Patagonia, Verizon and Stonyfield which have since joined to work together under the ‘Climate Collaborative’ to “leverage the power of the natural products industry to reverse climate change” . The Climate Collaborative launched on Climate Day at Expo West on March 8th, 2017 and is focusing on the following nine areas:
- Energy Efficiency
- Food Waste
- Renewable Energy
- Short-lived Climate Pollutants
Let’s take Lotus Foods as an example of one company that is part of the Collaborative. It has already committed to reducing its methane emissions from rice production. To achieve its climate change mitigation goals, Lotus Foods “is partnering with small-scale farmers who have adopted changes in their rice production practices that reduce this potent greenhouse gas by 30 to 60 percent” .
In addition to the above, the OSC2 is now in the process of collaborating with Natural Products University (NPU) to provide professional development courses to members of the OSC2 community. The purpose is to not just educate the CEOs of the companies in the OSC2 but also VPs and Senior Managers. (to ensure that the knowledge and initiative will be sustained! )
What started for Numi Tea as an initiative towards sustainable packaging, has now developed into a large network of companies driving towards the same mission via the OSC2 . With initiatives such as the Climate Collaborative and the new partnership between the OSC2 and NPU, the knowledge and best practises will be sustained within each organization that is part of this community.