Our aim as a business is to run our operations in such a way that we preserve our planet’s ability to bear the burden put upon it. This was Ulrich Walter’s motive in setting up Lebensbaum 35 years ago. Since then, the Lebensbaum synthesis of green core business and quality has been constantly enhanced at our company. Sustainability is part of our economic operating system and determines our core business activity. Find out how we organise and measure sustainability and what that delivers here.
Lebensbaum says “no thanks” to GM
Not only our raw materials are free from genetic modification. The same goes for our packaging.
We do not only take care that our raw materials are 100% free from genetic modification. When looking for alternative packaging options, we therefore sometimes come up against self-set restrictions. Obviously, we could have long since had compostable film – from polylactide PLA – for our packaging. However, this material is based on strengths that are predominantly produced from genetically modified maize – which is out of the question for us.
We have been using cellulose-based material for the film around our tea boxes since the end of 2011. It is compostable, free from genetically modified raw materials and nonetheless fulfils all the criteria we set for our cardboard boxes in terms of protecting flavours. We have not yet changed over to this for all forms of packaging; we are taking a gradual approach because, in addition to all the requirements for being environmental friendly, our packaging must be able to do one thing above all: reliably protect our product.
The intention of eliminating all use of GM technology affects our desks and workspaces, too. Compostable pens are just the start in this respect, and finding these was easier said than done. The drinking cups for our water dispenser are not sourced without thought either – as much so as our garbage bags. We always question the often tempting, supposedly sustainable products on offer.
Packaging – As little as possible
Packaging should protect the product in the best possible way. But we do not want to use more material than is absolutely necessary to do this; and most preferably what we do use should be able to be easily recycled.
Tea boxes with FSC seal and mineral oil-free inks
The packaging for our boxes of tea has been made from virgin fibre since 2006 and is completely recyclable. They have been sporting the FSC seal since 2011. We consciously opted for wooden virgin fibre. Consequently, our products should be kept from traces of mineral oil as much as possible. The current situation is that recycled paper in Germany is heavily loaded with mineral oil due to printing practices. We need to break this cycle. That is why we also opted for vegetable oil-based inks – 100% mineral oil-free. At the same time, this is also an important contribution to the protection of finite resources.
Cellulose instead of plastic
The “plastic” which envelopes every single one of our tea boxes has been cellulose-based since 2012. Within a few weeks, the film – which has been produced in a CO2-neutral way – decomposes into its natural components in the household compost. The large composting plants are lagging behind us in this regard. Unfortunately, they do not recognize compostable film as such, and this is therefore sorted out as conventional film. In spite of this, we want to refrain from using plastic produced from finite resources. Someone has to make a start.
Tea bags from Manila hemp
Our tea bags made from Manila hemp are compostable anywhere. The solitary metal staple on the paper tag does not harm the compost. We have had this checked by external experts. We are, however, working on completely doing away with metal staples.
Halve the amount of packaging material
Regarding the pallets on which we ship our goods, we refrain from using single-use and plastic pallets. Instead, Euro pallets made from wood are used which are systematically reused. Loaded pallets must be wrapped with stretch film for secure transportation. In 2011, we were able to halve the amount of packaging material that we require for this by changing from blown film to cast film. The two films differ in the way they are produced: cast film is poured, while blown film is blown up like bubble gum from a liquid state.
Recycling in a local paper factory
Our film is not only thinner than its predecessor, it can now also be stretched much further and is thus more economic in terms of consumption. Despite these savings, we are looking around for compostable alternatives. We use the large covering boxes to cover our finished goods several times if possible to minimize carton waste. And if there is anything left at the end, this is recycled in a local paper factory.
To others this may sound excessive, but to us it is self-evident: good products deserve good packaging.
Purchasing – As close as possible
When we source items from all around the globe, the principle “as close as possible, as far as necessary” applies. In other words: great apples grow by Lake Constance, so we buy them there and not in New Zealand. This way we spare them the long journey – and avoid climate gas.
Peppermint, balm and strawberry leaves grow perfectly in the Mühlviertel region of Upper Austria. An easy decision for our purchasing department.
Rooibos, however, only grows in Cederbergen, South Africa. Not a chance of growing it in our realm. In cases like that, we have to wander a little further. But only as far as necessary.