Pukka prides itself on being a sustainable company both in terms of their ingredients and in terms of their carbon emissions. As a company they have multiple certifications showing that they are working towards sustainability (certified by Soil Association organic, Fair for Life, FairWild, 1% for the Planet and B Corp). I was particularly impressed with their carbon footprint breakdown which showed the exact areas that CO2 was emitted, even including the energy usage in boiling kettles. I was also really glad to see that the tea bags come in paper ‘envelopes’ which can be recycled as can the cardboard box the tea bags come in. They had some examples given of their workers and who provided the ingredients. They clearly aimed for transparency, but I think there could be more information about where all of their ingredients came from rather than some curated examples. I would recommend this product to a consumer especially in comparison to some of the other tea products on the market. It would be great to keep encouraging Pukka’s pilot schemes for agriculture and also to hold them up to the standards they set in their ‘manifesto’.
‘100% organic ingredients: Peppermint Leaf (60%), Licorice Root (40%)’ – according to the website
The ingredients and materials used in Pukka’s peppermint and liquorice tea are well thought through by the company and clearly Pukka has high standards in terms of sustainability. In their sustainability section on their website, you can see that most of their tea bags and containers are recyclable and/or compostable. The peppermint and liquorice tea, specifically, can be put into a food waste bin, but this hasn’t yet been independently verified. One issue I had was that each tea bag is individually wrapped. There are 20 tea bags within a box, and each has its own ‘envelope’ which they say is to keep all the bags fresh. Thankfully each ‘envelope’ is recyclable, but they could improve by finding a system where they didn’t need to individually wrap the items. This is what took the rating down to a 2.
They mention a regenerative organic agricultural programme, but the website suggests this may just be part of a pilot scheme – so clearly are looking in the right direction. They have the organic standard from the Soil Association, but I would be interested to see how their regenerative agriculture programme develops in the future.
The FairWild standard means they always leave a bit of every plant to grow back next year which is a more efficient way of growing crops. They also encourage those who grow the crops to invest in less water intensive growing through the Fair for Life premium the farmers get.
Their tea bags are staple-free and stitched together with 100% organic, non-GMO cotton, instead of heat-sealed using plastic.
Their orders are also sent in plastic free packaging from local warehouses which use 100% renewable energy according to their website. It doesn’t give information on what types of renewable energy they use so I couldn’t confirm or deny their claim for 100% renewable energy. The actual production process is not so well documented, and I was unable to find where all their factories are and a list of partners that they work with. The lack of information on their production process made this rating a 1.5. They are making some good steps and have a good plan set out until 2030 so this rating may be moved up.
Pukka is Fair for Life certified meaning that Pukka is ‘donating 1% of everything we sell to environmental and social initiatives, sourcing organic ingredients, and becoming carbon neutral in 2019’.
Their certifications include Soil Association organic, Fair for Life, FairWild, 1% for the Planet and B Corp.
They declared a climate emergency so their goal to be Carbon Neutral by 2030 was brought forward to 2019. In 2019 they offset their entire ‘crop to cup’ carbon footprint which is great to see. They have since revised their goal to now be Net Carbon Zero by 2030. This is a great aim, and it is so good to see a company adapting to the changing Climate Crisis.
They also acknowledged their shortcomings: ‘We are currently reviewing our entire value chain to identify opportunities to reduce our GHG emissions, rather than just paying to offset them. After prioritising, we will commence our reduction projects in summer 2021. Although we source 100% organic herbs, we recognise the importance of continuing to collaborate with others to identify further ways to address the biodiversity crisis.’ They have outlined in their Climate and Biodiversity Manifesto the 5 ‘focus areas’ they will look to improve over the next 5 years.
They gave a few examples of some of their workers in India and the UK. One person was Babu Holagi in India growing mint and Organic Blooms on the outskirts of Bristol growing echinacea.
Below is Pukka’s breakdown of their carbon footprint. It was interesting to see on their website just how carbon intensive boiling the kettle is. Apparently, boiling enough water for 3 cups of tea is equivalent to 5 hours on a laptop. I didn’t know this, so I was glad to see how Pukka is trying to educate people. I was slightly cautious about the kettle boiling section of the diagram. This is still an important issue, but as the main section of the diagram it took the blame away from the company and put it onto the consumers. It made the other sections that Pukka was responsible for look deceptively small in comparison.
I was still very impressed with the company as a whole. They have a clear mission and statement in how they will tackle the Climate and Biodiversity Crisis. There could have been more information about their workers and who their partners are. They only mention a few chosen workers and organisations they work with.