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How a sustainable tea brand is about to get greener with new sugar cane technology

One Earth teabag
Wize Coffee Leaf's latest green initiative is a new teabag mesh that’s backyard compostable in three weeks.

At Wize Coffee Leaf, nothing goes to waste, and it starts with the brand’s tea itself. Made from the coffee leaf, it stabilizes coffee growers’ income by using more of the plant than just the bean. But it certainly doesn’t end there.

On the farm, Wize Coffee Leaf growers utilize even more of the coffee plant that is otherwise wasted by conventional growing practices. For example, farmers compost the husk’s pulp for fertilizer. “The pulp is rich in moisture and has a lot of biomass,” explains co-founder and CEO Max Rivest. “Energy, nutrients and moisture from the pulp itself is used to maintain the plantings, because they make a great fertilizer that we can put back into the farm.” The drier layers of husk are used as kindling or on walkways to dry soggy and wet passages.

The compost mixture is then enriched by soil gathered from the bottom of a pond, which was created via dam for this exact purpose. “There’s a lot of runoff that comes from the mountains, and this runoff is rich in minerals,” Rivest says. “We built a dam to capture this soil and collect huge buckets of it from the pond to compost along with the pulp and other biomass. The idea is to keep all this biomass in a closed loop.”

In about a month, Wize Coffee Leaf consumers will be able to get in on the composting action when the brand rolls out a new tea filtering material from One Earth, made from non-GMO sugar cane. “This mesh teabag is backyard compostable in three weeks,” Rivest explains. “All the existing teabags on the market right now are compostable in two years. So we were absolutely in love with this concept.”

It took two years of testing, learning to manipulate the material, and acquiring new machinery, but the investment is worth it, Rivest says. “No one has been willing to test this material before because it creates an R&D gap for companies that don’t deem this necessary,” he says. “We took this process on, in house, because we wanted to invest in this and make sure it works. We see this as one of the best innovations in single-serve teabags in a long time.”

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