Covid may have caused the temporary loss of a battle against plastic but the war is still raging

by Michael Vanheste February 26, 2021

Covid may have caused the temporary loss of a battle against plastic but the war is still raging

When you care about the planet and its resources, another unhappy side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is the sight of many discarded single use masks containing plastic (including micro fibres) into the environment.

It’s also a bit disheartening to read headlines such as The Plastic Pandemic: COVID-19 trashed the recycling dream or Action on plastics: Has Covid-19 stopped the refill revolution?’ but read a little further beyond the mere headline and you’ll find that the war against plastics is still very much raging. Very soon, when a little of pre-pandemic normality returns, the next battle with be fought. And that battle will be won by the many small businesses that have continued to focus on eliminating plastic use from their operations. Protecting the environment is a value that will prevail and businesses will no doubt be judged by their actions.

Quinteassential has always been driven by its values, they’re at the core of everything we do.  That’s why a number of years ago a conscious decision was made - and long before the public’s perception change towards consumable plastics - to develop and bring to market the first fully sustainable and ecologically friendly tea caddy.  The main purpose of a tea caddy is, of course, to preserve and prolong the shelf life of its contents, namely top quality grade, loose leaf tea.  Airtightness is one of the main factors in achieving this, because by keeping oxygen out, the caddy is successful in delaying the loss of scent, colour and vibrancy of flavour.  

We set out to design a caddy box that would meet these demands and be fully recyclable, made from FSC certified renewable materials and would overall be kinder to the earth’s resources.  From its production, to the materials used, over its prolonged lifespan and its recyclability, the demands of this simplistic eyeing design were high.  Yet, with the premiumness of our tea brand, the caddy still needed to reflect the upmarket credentials that befits Quinteassential.  

Together with our packaging suppliers we developed the Quinteassential Caddy Box, fully hand crafted in the United Kingdom.  The box contributed to us winning multiple awards such as coming top in class at the ‘Luxury Packaging Awards’ back in 2016 and the most recently landed ‘Most Innovative Tea Company’ in 2020.  Not only did we achieve our goal of producing this caddy adhering to all the stringent, self imposed requirements listed above (the inner liner is made out of a compostable starch based plastic free alternative), there’s an additional benefit in that transport of these sturdy yet lightweight caddy boxes have a lower CO2 impact during shipment as opposed to caddies made from heavier materials. 

As with any other type of caddy, the Quinteassential Caddy Box is wipe clean (using a lightly dampened cloth) and can be refilled when required.  The prime functionality of the box delivers too as its airtightness rivals that, and in some cases betters, many other types of caddy available today.  And by the way, it looks great displayed on your kitchen shelves too. The caveat of maintaining a luxury feel has also been achieved with many of our customers expressing their love for the box and likening the unboxing experience to being similar as opening premium tech products such as those made by Apple and Samsung.


Other ways we are eliminating single use plastics

We will shortly be introducing a refreshed look of our existing packaging design for plastic-free teabags and at the same time phasing out our loose leaf pouches. Currently, these pouches still contain plastic and we will replace them with a sustainable cardboard box (again, FSC certified) in the same style as our teabag boxes.

But that’s not the only change we’re making. Since the beginning of 2020, we stopped using plastic packing tape and have removed all other plastic packaging materials such as bubble wrap. In stead, we’re using recycled paper products to replace the plastic packaging materials that were used to protect our products during transport.

Our suppliers are also being asked to send us our leaves, botanicals, flowers and spices in plastic free consignments and when our hospitality customers are once again open for business, we’ll be changing the packaging we’re using for our bulk tea orders.

For now, while the world’s focus is firmly on battling COVID-19, we’re very proud of being the creators of the first sustainable caddy box and continuing in our efforts to win the war against plastics in our operations.