100% Biodegradable & Home Compostable
eco-friendly packaging from studios of 5 Mountains
FIVE MOUNTAINS, a San Francisco-based organic tea crafter and tea-ware manufacturer, push the limits on how “green” tea can be.
In their efforts to be the greenest tea company possible, Five Mountains has co-created 100% biodegradable and home-compostable high-barrier whole leaf tea packaging, making it the first company to do so. Launched in mid-September of 2009, the packaging is constructed of CarbonZero-certified films sourced from renewable, non-GMO wood pulp, certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (strictly adhering to Sustainable Forestry Management Principles), and contains a renewable bio-based content of 95%.
After researching a number of biodegradable material options with sufficient moisture/flavor barriers for food packaging, and that met the American ASTM D6400 standard for compostability, Five Mountains ultimately opted for wood pulp cellulose film, citing a number of advantages. Although more cost-effective bioplastic solutions were available, all suitable alternatives under consideration required commercial-grade industrial composting facility standards for successful biodegradability. While Five Mountains encourages the use of municipal compost solutions, they wanted to remain realistic and specifically address what actually happens to packaging labeled as “compostable” in normal, everyday situations. In reality, the average person will, unfortunately, rarely manage to get their packaging to these industrial facilities after consumption of its contents. (The frustrating statistic that an estimated 80% of recyclable plastic bottles end up in landfills every year comes to mind.) Five Mountains wanted a package that could break down not only in industrial compost facilities, but also in simple home compost bins or in a consumer’s backyard or garden. This would offer a more practical solution for those who do not have regular and convenient access to municipal compost systems. Home-compost-ready packaging would also save energy by circumventing the collection and transporting process of compostable materials to high-temperature industrial facilities where further energy would be required to break down the material. Furthermore, the corn-PLA options under consideration were found to be sourced from genetically modified corn and to utilize high pesticide levels, posing potential pollution threats to water systems. The idea of using any food source for packaging in light of widespread global hunger also raised a number of moral questions. Due to these concerns, Five Mountains opted to utilize renewable wood pulp metalized films that can break down in a natural environment without the need for industrial facilities. The packaging can biodegrade simply by being exposed to normal natural environmental conditions, such as when it is lying outdoors, exposed to earth, air, sun and water. The packaging graphics are digitally printed, a process previously thought to be impossible with this type of material. This allowed Five Mountains to use water-based high-definition full color graphics, achieving a striking, environmentally responsible package that preserves the freshness of its organic tea contents. The all-too-common, disappointing signs of “greenwashing” fail to surface anywhere in their achievement.
“As tea cannot flourish without a healthy environment, we strive to make the entire process as green as possible, from the harvesting of the tea to its final steeping. Our teas are certified organic in the USA, the EU and Asia to ensure the greenest, purest tea possible. They are virgin rainforest heirloom tea varietals, bio-diversely grown and sustainably hand-harvested from the oldest tea-producing mountains in the world. These tea trees and the virgin rainforest we harvest them from act as a “carbon sink,” capturing carbon dioxide. This, combined with the CarbonNeutral-certified packaging, make Five Mountains Tea a carbon negative product, allowing the consumer to reduce their own carbon footprint and to promote the continued protection of East Asian virgin rain-forests. Our design studio and North American warehouse are located in California’s Bay Area, close to major rail, air and seaports, which allows us to ship directly from where our tea arrives, reducing greenhouse gasses while preserving the tea’s freshness. We’ve created Five Mountains Boro-Glass tea-ware, a line of whole leaf tea-brewers, utilizing eco-friendly, non-toxic materials. We offer these devices so our customers may purchase their tea in biodegradable packaging and brew it conveniently at home or work, achieving the greenest, healthiest possible solution. Brewing your own tea ensures that you’re extracting the tea’s full benefits and helps you avoid the sugars, additives and degraded antioxidant levels of wasteful, industrial processed tea bags and bottled teas. ‘Drink something good for you and the Earth."
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