Monday, June 21, 2010

Vegetarian Chocolate and Tea-Bag Packaging - Mars and Numi Reply

So, as you remember sometime back I was a bit peeved at Mars Bar deciding to go back to using animal products (rennet) in it's manufacturing process.

Whilst I was on my high horse I also took a swing at a few tea companies for their excessive use of packaging.

The former I was annoyed at because it seemed like such a backward step, and the latter I was perplexed at because of my 100lb rubbish challenge, because most of their packaging was not suitable for composting.

So I fired some email salvos across their bows, and as I promised back then, I said I would let you know of their replies.

Mars replied almost immediately, not really with an answer, but with a phone number a file number to reference once I called them.

So I called them today, and I'm sorry this is such an anti-climax, but in a nut shell Mars USA are not using rennet, just the UK company is resorting to this. So, bang goes your hopes of me bringing back any chocolate for you from the UK, the next time I visit. I'll will look up the UK web site and ping them with my observations and see what they say.

The only answer I had back from a tea company was from Numi.

The first sentence from them was a bit alarming.....

"Thank you for your email. I saw your blog post and was going to respond there but was glad to receive your email with specific questions and concerns."

Erm, how the heck did Numi get to see my blog post? I guess big brother is really watching us. If a tea company is able to know that I, little old me, wrote something about them on my tiny little blog which about 5 people have read, what else do other big companies/corporations know?

And how come it took the authorities 5 months to find my former co-worker when she skipped bail.... a whole mile and a half? Seems like they have their priorities mixed up.

What happens if I mention Monsanto? Shit, the front door bell just rang, and I can hear a helicopter hovering over head. Ahhh... I can see them taking sample from my corn for DNA testing. Help me..........

But I digress.....

Anyway their reply continues....

"Numi is currently in the R & D process of developing the industry's only 100% biodegradable and GMO free overwrap for the individual teabags. The second option would be 100% recyclable overwrap, which is accomplishable, but does not provide the barrier needed to protect the tea inside. Since all of our teas are made with 100% real ingredients, each teabag must be individually wrapped to ensure freshness and maintain the quality of the tea leaves, fruits, and herbs used. Also, 40% of our business is in the Food Service world and our customer base there requires individually sealed bags."

100% real ingredients.... as opposed to 98% real and 2% imaginary? Actually I should not be sarcastic as it does sound like they have their hearts in the right place. I understand their point about the Food Service world requiring individually wrapped tea-bags since we're a world of germo-phobes.

"The Numi operations team spends considerable time working with raw supplies, converters, and printers to find a solution for this material. The goal is to have a 100% biodegradable material that will break down in a home composting environment. We have secured samples of biodegradable foil (metalized material that is 100% compostable, GMO Free, and is certified to break down in a proper composting environment within 45 days). We have run test runs of this material, and we are having challenges with the heat sealability. We are continuing to work with the vendor to further develop this material so that it can be used in a commercial manufacturing environment."

I wonder if we should reply to them and volunteer to test their new design in our home composting environment. I might just do that.

"In the meantime, we have taken the steps to reduce the overall packaging used for our teabags, and we transitioned to a lower weight material in Q3 of 2009:

Old Structure: Paper / LDPE / Foil / LDPE
New Structure: 100% Post-Consumer waste Paper / Metalized OPP

Features / Benefits:
No More Foil: Foil has been replaced with custom Metalized White OPP resulting in a 50% reduction in the plastic/metal components used
100% Post Consumer Waste Paper: Continues to reduce landfill by 82,166 lbs annually
Reduces Total Use of Teabag Packaging by 22%: Results in a reduction of 43,000 lbs packaging annually for Numi Teabags."

I think OPP stands for "oriented polypropylene" and if you do a google search most of the hits returned are for products by Exon Mobile. Not sure how the new OPP substitute is better, seems like I need to do some more research.

Anyway, you can see that Numi seems to be moving in the right direction, and reducing their waste by a fair amount. They've said I can write back to them so I will asking about OPP and if they want me to beta test their packaging for them.

Okay, that's all from me. No mention of the world cup.... just yet anyway. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. LOL.

    I did google "Numi tea" and "yogi" and found your blog post in the google blog search. I bet they have an automated search to see what everybody is blogging about them. As far as I could tell, everybody else is saying positive stuff, so I'm sure they remembered yours!