At TOTP we care deeply for the environment and the future of our planet. We are constantly experimenting and working on improving our business and product offering to ensure it has as minimal impact on the world around us.
When we started this brand in 2016 there were limited options when it came to sustainable packaging and we were at the forefront of eco-friendly boxes and pouches.
Now, things have moved forward dramatically (thank goodness) but we haven't quite kept up with all the changes.
The challenge we face is to keep costs down so that our products remain affordable for you guys while producing a fully sustainable, organic, recyclable and biodegradable product.
No packaging comes without an environmental cost, so it's a balancing act.
One of the first things we did was ensure that our tea was certified organic.
Being certified means we only work with tea farms in India that can provide evidence that their plantations minimise non-renewable resources and that their crops are chemical and pesticide free.
Each year we are audited by NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia) to ensure we comply to Australian certified organic standards and we can continue to carry the NASAA logo and Certificate Number 2793P on our packaging.
Because we import our tea directly from the source (in India) we must make sure that there is a transfer of organic certification meaning lots of boxes to check. It also means we must be able to track all product units back to their batch and creation date.
Currently in Australia, the only way to know that the products you are buying are actually organic, are to ensure they carry the certification logo.
OUR TEA BOXES
We produce our tea boxes in India using recycled craft board and vegetable inks. They are made by hand and silk screened by hand too.
You may notice when you receive your tea from us that each box is slightly different, even when it contains the same tea blend. With these imperfections comes the knowledge that we are doing our best to minimise the impact on the earth by creating packaging that can safely decompose when added to your compost or put into recycling.
OUR TEA BAGS
These are made from Soilon® mesh. Soilon® is a bioplastic and provides a non-toxic alternative to the usual paper tea bags that tend to include microplastics.
Soilon® is made from poly lactic acid (PLA) derived from plants and because of this, this material has been the gold standard in environmental tea bag production since 2011.
This material is commercially biodegradable and in some instances is said to be 100% biodegradable.
As we become more sophisticated in our understanding of composting, we’ve learned that different materials degrade at different rates under different conditions that involve heat, moisture, PH level, and types and numbers of organisms present.
We are unsure if home composting our tea bags works. Our own tests and other studies have shown that they are still present in the soil after 3 months. If you are considering this we would recommend testing them in a separate area first.
While, there is no question that these bags are better for the environment than nylon pyramid tea bags, they still have a way to go.
We are in the process of testing some alternative paper solutions however most pressed paper tea bags with crimped edges are sealed using a plastic melt.
OUR TEA BAG BAGS
These are currently made using foil which provides an excellent barrier against water vapour and oxygen. Foil is perfect for keeping our tea fresh but it can't be recycled and that's a big problem.
You may have seen paper and cellulose bags on the market. We are trialling these at the moment to ensure they can keep our tea bags fresh on shelf for up to 24 months. Watch this space!
LOOSE LEAF TEA POUCHES
Our pouches are in a transition phase. We have stock made with recycled kraft paper with a shiny foil liner. These pouches can be recycled but not composted.
Our new stock of pouches are made using renewable Plantcell technology including zippers that are made from plants and are fully biodegradable and compostable.
They break down into healthy compost leaving no microplastics and conform to all major compost certifications including OK Compost Home and AS5810.
You'll notice that we offer stainless steel and glass tea accessories, no plastic. We do this for both environmental and aesthetic reasons. Best case scenario is to buy secondhand but when you can't, we have chosen some of the best items to help provide a fantastic brewing experience with little impact to the flavour of your tea and the environment.