Turkey is among the leading countries in the world with a rate of 3.16 kg. This means 256,000 tons of black tea residue goes to the trash per year. "
Cha Paper is a paper material made of 100% brewed black tea leftovers, an ingredient that can be found in abundance in Turkey, the country that tops the list of annual tea consumption per capita. The paper crisis in said country, which resulted from the currency crash of August 2018, catalyzed the creation of Cha Paper, which revolves around a simple idea: Using a waste product in order to create a sustainable and eco-conscious solution to an economic problem with societal impact.
This simple idea does have further implications: in Turkey, tea is not only a compulsively consumed hot beverage (we are talking about an annual consumption per capita of 6.96 pounds) but also a key cultural element which reached seminal status in a relatively short amount of time – in less than a hundred years, it went from an unknown substance to national symbol. The offering of tea is easily the most popular conversation opener, forming connections between familiars, strangers, and even foreign tourists. Tea, in its unmistakable tulip-shaped glass, features in every single advertising activity that promotes Turkey.
Therefore, it seems fit for us to use this much-loved, highly consumed product to possibly open a gateway to widespread and functional recycling practices. Although Turks make and break the rules of the upcycling game, recycling and a general sense of environmental awareness are at a fledgling stage. As a result, any project that aims to promote self-sufficiency and sustainability in Turkey is obligated to overcome this lack of awareness and corresponding practices.
We believe that tea can be our friend and advocate in overcoming this obstacle. By creating an immediate link between the waste and material which corresponds to urgent needs, recycling can evolve from its present unseen-therefore-nonexisting state to a tangible, beneficial concept in the collective mindset. An example: in many workplaces in the country, very large quantities of tea are consumed in the Turkish newspaper offices – a sector that is online 24/7 and that, understandably, has been hit very hard by the soaring prices of paper. In this case, Tea Paper offers journalism a chance to sustainability in the simplest possible way – drink tea to publish more.
Turning organic waste to staple good is not the only environmental benefit that Tea Paper offers: it also promises to cut half of the current wood-chips-to-paper production process. Tea Paper’s production process consists of four steps, including the collection and transportation of brewed tea leftovers, non-chlorine bleaching, framing, and drying.
By using a cultural symbol to offer an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution to a widely felt economic problem, we believe that Cha Paper can revolutionize Turkey’s approach to recycling and environmentalism.