In our first article, we introduced Numi Tea and its sustainable packaging initiative. In this article, we dive deeper into the launch of the initiative, and describe some of the challenges encountered by Numi Tea and how it has overcome these.
As with every company, quality is of major concern. This is no different for Numi Tea whose ethos is to deliver high quality products but with minimal impact to the environment. For Numi Tea, delivering tea leaves with long shelf life is a key business driver and over the past few years, it has been exploring methods in which it can meet such requirements sustainably.
Most competitors of Numi Tea use PET to manufacture tea bags. PET is a GMO corn-based product and is not biodegradable. Numi Tea has pulled together a group of food companies that together are lowering the currently high cost curve for purchasing sustainable packaging. An initial sustainable package has been launched by one of the companies in the partnership, Alter Eco Foods, which specializes in the import and distribution of fair trade foods, and now uses a plant based material to package its quinoa. This ‘bio wrap’ enables quinoa to have a long shelf life however it also costs up to three times more than non-biodegradable packaging.
Numi Tea believes that a similar ‘bio wrap’ could be used to package tea leaves. But before Numi Tea introduces bio wrap packaging, it must first test the process. It is known that different food products interact differently with different packaging. And since the bio wrap is degradable, it must not degrade before the desired shelf life! Therefore, both the tea leaves and the bio wrap must be tested together to determine shelf life and that quality standards are met.
From a financial perspective, Numi Tea has made progress in reducing the purchasing cost of the bio wrap material from 3 times the cost of regular packaging to about 1.5 times the cost, which makes it almost financially viable. It has done so by creating a coalition for product development and group purchasing with other companies looking to introduce sustainable packaging. In our next article, we will describe how Numi Tea created this coalition comprising organizations such as Whole Foods, Verizon, Stonyfield and Patagonia in order to and broaden the use of sustainable packaging and to spearhead the mitigation of long-term climate change.
 Numi Tea logo taken from www.numitea.com