Bird & Blend Tea

overall rating:

2.1

planets

Qintian Yao
7/28/2022
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Bird & Blend Tea, the UK-based sustainable tea company is here to reimagine tea and spread happiness. They have always tried to keep people and the planet at the forefront of their decision making. In 2020 they started B-Corp application. The assessment certifies us them a sustainable and ethical organisation. They are making effort in climate action, in being responsible for consumption and production, in expanding impacts on society, and also providing decent work as well as economic growth.

 

What it's made of:

1.3

Though not registered, they claim that they pay above Fairtrade prices and have traceability of ingredient origins. While not completely certified organic, many ingredients are. All their teas are vegetarian and 99% are vegan, but since the ingredients are sourced around the world, some may come in contact with allergens. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with their claim of “traceability” because I did not find further information about the company’s tea leaf supplier from the website. It would be nicer if they can improve their transparency here. But Bird and Blend is working with their tier 1 suppliers to explore making the supply chain more responsible, and to ensure all suppliers have signed their code of conduct. However, they are not tracing how exactly their suppliers are performing, so the signing of the code of conduct might turn out to be window dressing.

How it's made:

2.3

Co-founder Krisi carefully creates each blend, which are then handcrafted in small batches and packed by hand and with love in a UK warehouse. However, no more details are provided regarding the tea making process.

In addition to having biodegradable eco-friendly tea bags, their consumer plastic free packaging is recyclable or compostable. “We are proud to have had 0 plastic in our teabags since day 1.” Reusable tea tins are made locally using solar power! Not only are the tins produced in an eco way, they're embossed with a friendly reminder that "metal recycles forever". In addition, All shipping materials are recyclable, all disposable cups and stickers are compostable and paper straws can be recycled and have been since day 1. They shred any cardboard packaging received in the warehouse to be used for product shipping instead of plastic. They do not send waste to landfill, most waste is recycled and all food waste is collected for composting. Any general waste is incinerated to produce energy. The UK’s current infrastructure cannot manage all compostable materials and there are only a few processing facilities, therefore, Bird and Blend believes that by investing in compostable packaging they can now advocate for the UK government and local councils to invest in food waste and compostable packaging collection and processing services. 

They are also taking climate action even though Bird & Blend is a small business but they believe it’s important that they do their bit to reduce impact on the environment. This means measuring carbon footprint and finding ways to reduce it. The company claims that they are already carbon neutral through the programme Ecologi, but want to go further and reach net-zero emissions. They pioneered the use of zero emissions last mile delivery in Brighton, helping to reduce emissions and pollution related health incidences. All items that are shipped to the UK use sea freighting instead of air freights, apart from some extenuating circumstances. This results in less emissions. In addition to favouring public transport or cycling/walking for all business travel.

In the effort to reach the net-zero objective, an environmental management system has been adopted, reporting on their greenhouse gas emissions (a rare activity in a business of this size in this sector.) Over the last three years they have reduced carbon footprint by an average of 5% whilst growing the business significantly, however this may be due to COVID-19 restrictions. They measure footprint by using the greenhouse gas protocol and in part following IS0 14001 framework.

Who makes it:

2.7

The company aims to create a work environment that is fun and inclusive for everyone. Apart from meeting living wage standards and matching wages to inflation, they also give allowance to employees to have any tea they want, so they always have a cuppa to share. All the employees have access to retail trust, an online platform that provides resources and support for mental health. They have started measuring the gender pay gap. As a female led company it is nice to see that the current gender pay gap is low.

At their brick-and-mortar locations, they reward people who bring reusable cups and plant a tree for every takeaway cup sold. With their ChariTEA Programme, they’ve supported more than 30 causes with over £50,000, mainly from a social-benefit way. ChariTEA is an initiative volunteering to empower employees to make someone’s day. Every quarter, an organization is selected and they choose a tea blend that fits its identity. All profits from that blend go toward this organization.

In addition to the operational initiatives, the company has a Trees for Teas programme. For every drink sold in a disposable cup, 12p is donated via their trees for tea campaign. So far They have planted 32,233 trees (29,010 were Mangrove trees and 3,223 agriforest and fruit trees.) This sequesters 396 tonnes of CO2 a year or 9,927 metric tonnes of CO2 over the tree's lifetime. 

Bird and Blend is innovating in benefiting and empowering employees to live a better life, at the same time making other people’s life better. The company as a whole is also doing good to the planet, but it seems more programmes and more influential actions can be designed and implemented.