Tea and Coffee Sourcing
Tea and Coffee - Ethical Sourcing and the Environment
SD Bell & Co ltd ensures that where possible. our teas and coffees are sourced from estates which support ethical and sustainable production.
SD Bell’s is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, a global NGO which joins tea producers and companies at each end of the tea supply chain to create a thriving tea industry that is socially just and environmentally sustainable.
The Kenyan Tea Development Authority is the largest cooperative in the world, its mission to create value for its 560,000 smallholder tea farmers. KTDA is a regular winner of the Financial Times/ International Finance Corporation Sustainable Finance Awards.
The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organisation that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods.
SD Bell’s Natural Leaf Tea is a blend of teas from RFA, ETP and KTDA estates.
SD Bell’s Belfast and 80’s Tea Bags are made from RFA, ETP and KTDA teas.
"SD Bell & Co Ltd. ensures that, where possible, our teas and coffees are sourced from estates which support ethical and sustainable production."
Some coffees are purchased direct from the producer, but most producers prefer to deal with agents who sell their coffee on their behalf, whether at auction or direct. High end coffees, eg Jamaican Blue Mountain, Hawaiian Kona, Kopi Luwak, are purchased through agents acting for the Farmer. Most other SD Bell coffees are bought on the trade spot markets.
Some of our teas and coffees are also Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certified. However we do not put the Fairtrade logo on any of our products, because we do not believe that paying to FLOCert GmbH in Germany a high levy which only serves to aid the German certification authority, is in the best interest of the farmer.
Packaging and the Environment
We have an ongoing programme that ensures that all our packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible, while ensuring that the tea and coffee is protected and safe from contamination. This is not an easy task.
• Natural Leaf Tea – This tea is packed in a carton which is 100% recyclable, and can also be placed in a domestic (brown) compost bin. The lining bag within the carton is made from PLA (polylactide), a 100% biodegradable film made entirely from sustainably-grown wood pulp, certified to the EN13432 standard for compostable packaging, also trademarked as Natureflex. It is formed naturally rather like the way collagen binds into fibrous strands to generate strong, flexible bonds. This entire bag will disintegrate in the brown bin.
• Tea bags – almost all of the UK teabag market is served using machinery that requires the heat-sealing of ‘paper’ bags, which are paper, part-infused with hemp and polypropylene (pp). Historically, without pp, tea bags would not seal effectively.
However, SD Bell’s are committed to the eradication of all pp from all volume-produced teabags. Our round 80’s pack, catering teabags and 120’s tins all contain no plastics.
• The carton, printed with water-based inks, is 100% recyclable.
• The foil pouch that contains the teabags is also PLA.
•The teabags themselves are made of a paper called PuriSeal, a sustainable wood-pulp paper infused with a vegetable-starch based bioplastic and are 100% biodegradable.
(The most environmentally sound way to ensure you reduce the plastic footprint of your tea-drinking, is, of course, with loose tea in a teapot!)
As with tea, the most environmentally-friendly way to make coffee is with freshly ground coffee in a cafetière. Our coffee is supplied at SD Bell retail outlets, in a PLA-based clear bag, which will decompose in the domestic brown bin. We also supply these coffees in a smarter, but non-degradable aluminium foil bag.
However we still continue to satisfy the single-serve coffee-brewing market as follows:
• Coffee capsules – The biodegradable capsule market is developing still, however we are not satisfied with the quality of biodegradable capsules on the market today.
• Coffee bags. A relatively new arrival to the coffee market, SD Bell & Co have been supplying these for some months. The bag, necessarily in a foil envelope, is made with BioWeb, which biodegrades naturally in domestic compost.
The cost of fully biodegradable cups has reduced in recent months, such that our 12-oz cups and lids are now 100% biodegradable, and our remaining stock of non-biodegradable 8oz cups will be reduced to zero, and replenished with the bio-versions. SD Bell also sell reusable ‘keep-cups’, and encourage their use by offering them with a free drink when the cup is purchased for just £5.