In March, organic UK tea brand Clipper Teas announced a GBP1m (US$1.3m) investment in the development of a new production line, in a bid to save 20 tonnes of plastic per year. The subsidiary company of Ecotone replaced the inner foil bag with PE film to create a fully recyclable packaging option.
Ecotone UK marketing and category director Bryan Martins speaks to Packaging Gateways’s Ryan Ellington about the crucial changes that have been made to Clipper Teas’ packaging.
Why did Clipper Teas change its packaging?
We removed the unrecyclable inner foil bag across our larger pack formats, making our new packaging fully recyclable and suitable for the kerbside collection of paper recycling products.
As a brand that stands for making ethical and sustainable choices, we are constantly challenging ourselves to minimise our environmental impact. This is driven by our parent company’s food for biodiversity mission, through which it is committed to changing the industrial food system with sustainable and ethically produced organic, plant-based and Fairtrade products.
We’re also committed to making all of our packaging 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, as part of Ecotone UK’s membership of The UK Plastics Pact. It’s been a priority for us, and we know it’s important to our consumers too. That’s why we have invested significantly in a new production line that allows us to create sustainable packaging solutions across our Clipper Teas ranges.
What other alternative materials did you consider?
As our aim was to remove the inner foil from our larger boxes, we focused on redesigning our existing packaging – creating a new box with a reinforced structure to lock in the taste and aroma of our tea. Our innovation team spent 18 months developing the new boxes until we achieved the right design.
What challenges did you face when redesigning the packaging?
Introducing any new packaging into full production can pose some challenges in the early stages. But, through our dedicated innovation team – and GBP1m investment in the new production line – we were able to transform our packaging efficiently and at scale.
How has the production process changed to accommodate the new style of packaging?
We have invested over GBP1m in a new production line that allows us to remove the unrecyclable inner foil bag across our larger packs making the packaging 100% recyclable.
Our new specially designed box features a reinforced structure to lock in Clipper’s delicious taste and aroma, while also protecting the tea bags inside.
Did your ESG targets have an impact on this key packaging update?
We’re committed to making all of our packaging 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. We’re focused on eliminating problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging and will only use functional plastic packaging where it will ensure product freshness and protect the tea inside. It’s why we launched our innovative new box format, and why we’re continually researching and extensively testing alternative materials to find the best and most sustainable solutions for our products.
How do your consumers benefit?
Addressing non-essential plastics across our ranges has been a priority for us as a business, and we know it’s important to our consumers too.
With our new fully recyclable packaging, consumers can be confident that they are buying a product that not only tastes great (the new box locks in the aroma and the great taste of our tea), but it is better for the planet too.
How much plastic will you save and how will it help you with hitting your ESG targets?
Our new fully recyclable packaging will help us save a minimum of 20 tonnes of metalised plastic from going to landfill or incineration each year.
This is just the latest milestone in our packaging sustainability journey – which has continued momentum after Clipper became the world’s first tea company to make its tea bags unbleached, non-genetically modified, plant-based and fully biodegradable in 2018.
As a result of these innovations, we’re on track to meet our target for all packaging to be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. We’re continuing our efforts in this area, and, from June onwards we will be replacing the inner foil bag within Clipper smaller packs with PE film which will be fully recyclable with other household soft plastics at supermarket collection points.
Can Clipper Tea eliminate all plastics from its packaging?
As a member of The UK Plastics Pact implemented by climate action NGO WRAP, we’re focused on eliminating problematic or single-use packaging across our portfolio as part of a circular loop model. Our new fully recyclable box is the latest milestone in our 38-year history of ethical and sustainable tea production.
We’re on track to meet our target for all packaging to be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 but we recognise that we still have more work to do. That’s why we’re continuing to work towards this commitment and exploring new ways to increase the recyclability of our products.