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Sustainable Packaging for Tea Company's Environmental Mission

Brand owner, film manufacturer, and converter unite to launch a home-compostable loose tea pack.

February 2013
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On Earth Day 2010, Arbor Teas of Ann Arbor, Michigan, became the first tea company in the United States to deliver a full line of organic loose teas in backyard compostable packaging. Founded in 2004 by husband-and-wife team and tea enthusiasts, Aubrey and Jeremy Lopatin, Arbor Teas is passionate about offering top-quality organic teas, while adhering to Fair Trade policies, protecting the environment, and making a positive contribution to their local community.

In fact, sustainability is central to Arbor Teas' mission. "To source the world's most fantastic organic teas and deliver them as sustainably as possible" is one of the core values the organization was founded upon. Not only does Arbor Teas offer one of the largest catalogs of USDA-certified organic teas available, nearly three-quarters are Fair Trade Certified®. In addition, the company avoids teaware and accessory products that are made using any degree of forced child labor, and those containing harmful heavy metals and similar pollutants.

So, when it came to designing its packaging, sustainability was always top-of-mind, and Arbor Teas immediately began a journey that ultimately resulted in the launch of a fully compostable package. Throughout the process, the company advanced its environmental mission, and continues to lead the tea industry through its staunch commitment to sustainable business practices. And, for the first time ever, tea drinkers are now able to compost their tea leaves and tea packaging together in their home composting systems.

Sustainability is a journey

Whether reducing greenhouse gas emissions or transitioning to greener packaging, improving organizational sustainability is indeed a journey. When Arbor Teas was first established, the teas were packaged in traditional tin-plated steel tins; but even then the company already had set its sights on a much higher sustainability goal—a fully compostable package. In addition, Arbor Teas customers, who are very well versed on environmental issues, had an expectation that the company would quickly establish a pathforward for greening its packaging.

So, the Lopatins teamed up with students from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and began the process of identifying a more sustainable packaging solution. Shortly thereafter, the company switched from packaging in tins to a Kraft bag with a glassine liner and paperboard canister. And, though the bag certainly represented an improvement in sustainability, Arbor Tea held on to its vision to one day offer its complete line of teas in a fully compostable package.

 

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