How Eco-friendly is Bird & Blend

One of our founding principles is to do our bit for the planet. Driven heavily by Mike & Krisi themselves, leading positive change in the world around us is very important to here at B&B. 

This was Krisi & Mike's first 'business plan', scribbled on a note book in a Canadian pub back in 2012! You can see (if you can read the scrawl!) that the first two things they wrote down were: 'no waste', and 'environmental responsibility'! 

initial business plan for Bluebird by Krisi and Mike
It is really important to us that we do the research and consider what the best steps are to actually be doing the most good, rather than just being seen to be good. Sometimes a product that has less plastic may end up contributing to higher carbon emissions, which isn't what we want. 
Making environmentally friendly choices comes with a lot of different considerations. It often involves considering the trade offs and choosing the least bad options.
Here is a list of some of the things we have to consider:
  • The actual environmental impact e.g. sometimes a product that has less plastic may end up contributing to higher carbon emissions, creating more waste, or having a negative impact on biodiversity. 
  • That any changes do not negatively impact the quality and safety of products. 
  • Our supply chain, e.g. we could find the most eco friendly product or packaging but if it has to be shipped further than our current option this will create more carbon emissions.
  • The type of businesses we are working with, big businesses or small independents. This differs depending on the products we are considering but may mean making eco trade offs.

For full transparency (as usual!) we have noted some of the considerations we have had to carefully discuss in order to take the best steps forward.

Packaging and Consumables

What we are looking for in the perfect material:

  • Be food safe & have the necessary barrier properties to keep your teas fresh, as well as adhering to relevant legislation.
  • Be strong enough to survive our packaging process, including running through machinery, ensuring it doesn't tear easily/get damaged before it gets to the customer.
  • Be strong and versatile enough to cope with our vast range of ingredients, some of which are powdery, some are spiky, some large, some small, some are oiled etc.
  • Biodegrade quickly after use.
  • For the pouches, it must be able to re-seal again for the customer.
  • For the single serves it must be easily tear-able for the customer. 

As you can see some of the above needs are fairly contradictory... to have something that is easily tear-able but survives the manufacturing and tea packing stages. Having something that keeps a product fresh for an 18 month shelf life (and doesn't degrade at all) but when it's finished decomposes within a year. 

For more information check out our blog post all about our eco packaging.

Waste

We send zero waste to landfill. That's right, not one of our stores, offices, or warehouses sends any waste to landfill. Instead it goes to an incinerator to be turned into energy.

This isn't the best and we would rather reuse, recycle, or compost more! That's why one of our sustainability aims is to become zero waste (meaning that 80% of our waste is recycled or reused).

Things we've done to help us reach this:

  • In 2020 we purchased a cardboard shredding machine, meaning that nearly all of the carboard that comes into our warehouse is shredded and used to pack your online orders.
  • Our stores have dedicated food waste/compost bins where all the tea leaves and compostable cups go. You can also return your cups and we will recycle them for you.
  • Our stores send their cardboard boxes and bulk tea bag packaging back to our warehouses where they will be reused up to 4 times (or until they are no longer sturdy enough).

Carbon Footprint

 We measure our carbon footprint as part of our environmental management system. 

We started this process by calculating our greenhouse gas emissions produced from our UK business operations.

What we included in our calculations:

  • Electricity and gas use in all our premises.
  • Air conditioning units.
  • Water use.
  • Shipping of our products to our warehouse
  • Shipping of our products to our customers.
  • Business travel.
  • Employee commuting.
  • Energy use from home working.

We use GHG protocol and ISO 14001 as a framework, and used the UK Gov conversion factors to calculate the CO2 emissions from each activity.

In 2019 - 2020 we emitted 129 tonnes of CO2-e.

We are carbon neutral, this means that we have purchased carbon offsets that fund climate projects to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

What else we do to reduce our carbon footprint:

  • Use a green electricity supplier for all our premises.
  • All of our suppliers ship their goods to us via sea rather than air.
  • We use Royal Mail to ship customer orders abroad because they use spare capacity on planes rather than making a separate journey. 

What's Next?

We've signed the SME climate pledge to reach Net Zero Carbon.

But wait, you're carbon neutral? What is Net Zero all about?

This means that we reduce the carbon emissions that our business emits.

Our Footprint Data

 Environmental Data 2018-2019 2019-2020 2020-2021
CO2 Emissions (tCO2) 146.8 130.5 129.6

Energy Usage (kWh)

Electricity Gas

87,371 109,453

98,667

12,231

Waste Produced (kg) 14,284 24,198 22,515

2022 Eco Pledges

Become a B-Corp: We're hoping to be certified as B-Corp by the end of 2022. This means that we will be certified as a sustainable and ethical business. Find out more about what this means here.

Zero Emissions delivery in cities: We want to reduce the pollution and emissions from our customer deliveries. We're kicking this off by partnering with zero emissions delivery partners. They use electric vans to collect from our warehouse and then deliver to your door using push and electric cargo bikes.

Eco alternative to our internal tea pouches: We transport and store large volumes of loose tea so that we can keep our tea wall tins stocked up. The material currently used for this isn't environmentally friendly. So it's next on our list for an eco switch up.

Read about how we got on with our 2021 Eco Pledge here

Teas for Trees Update

For every cup that we use in any drink across our stores, we donate 12p to the WPF, and for each donation of 12p it will allow one tree to be planted.

🌳 We have planted a total of 81,896 tress from 2019 to 2022 🌳

 This equates to 497 metric tonnes of CO2 per year!

Currently, WPF are planting Mangroves in Madagascar, with another 10% being agroforestry trees (species designed to provide a secure source of food, and benefit local community needs), planted throughout Haiti, Nepal, Indonesia, Mozambique and Madagascar, depending on where they are needed.

Why Mangroves? They provide the best all-round benefit to our environment, as they have one of the highest carbon conversion rates - two to four times greater than mature tropical trees! - and contain the highest carbon density. They even help to protect coastal erosion, and help to restore the biodiversity for both land and sea, along with protecting offshore reefs!

Find out more about Teas for Trees here.

We encourage (and reward you!) when you support the environment too!

Free drink + 50p off for life with a BB Eco cup

Even though our take away cups are totally plastic-free and fully compostable we encourage you to go one step further and use a 'forever cup'. Our eco-cups not only look cool but are made from eco-friendly, biodegradable bamboo fibre! What’s even better is that when you buy one, you get free tea to take out straight away! After that, you can get 50p off all drinks when you come into the store as a thank you!

Did you know? You can also bring any cup, thermos or vessel of your own and we will give you 50p off as a thank you. 

Reusable bamboo straws 

Even though our straws are totally plastic-free and fully compostable we also sell reusable bamboo straws in all of our stores, which you can pop in your bag and use for your iced drinks. Just like bringing your own cup, if you bring your own reusable straw you also get 10% off your drink.

Bring your tin back in and get a refill at 10% off! 

As you know, if you purchase 150g of tea you get the tea tin thrown in for free. We hope this will encourage you to bring it back and let us fill it up again - zero new packaging needed! As a thank you, yup you guessed it, we will give you 10% off your refill! 

Did you know? You can also bring any jar, bag, tin or vessel of your own to be filled with tea and we will give you 10% off as a thank you. 

But, you don’t just have to fill it with tea, you could do we do at HQ and use it as a pen pot on your desk, you could fill it with your favourite sweets or biscuits, or you could be creative and make a DIY gift, the possibilities are endless!

You can also reuse our matcha tins by filling them with whatever you like! One of our personal favourite ways is to use it to make a tea-infused sleep balm. 

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2 comments

  • Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for leaving a comment on our blog post!

    It is so wonderful to hear you have been loving our teas!

    Expanding to the US is not something which we are currently focused on but thank you so much for your interest! We are still a growing business and it’s certainly not a ‘never’ :)

    Happy sipping always!

    Lizzie @ B&B

    Lizzie @ B&B
  • I live in Kasson, Minnesota USA and have been ordering your teas since my daughter-in-law purchased me a gift box in December for my birthday. I think I usually order them under my other email address: kellyjjohnson1214@yahoo.com
    I just have to say, I am so impressed with your company and your teas. They are the best I’ve ever had and I’m completely hooked. I’m watching for my mail carrier every day for my next order to arrive!
    Have you had any thoughts about expanding to the USA or possibly opening distributorship over here in the States? You’ve got something pretty special here. I love what you stand for, you have a great product and I love how much you care about your business, the customer and the world. It’s a beautiful thing.
    I wish you my very best. God bless you all. xxxx

    Kelly Johnson

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