We recently caught up with Chris Forbes, Co-Founder of The Cheeky Panda®, to find out how and why the brand has got everyone talking about toilet rolls.
The Cheeky Panda is the brainchild of married entrepreneurs Chris and Julie, who launched the brand in January 2016, following a trip to Southeast Asia that opened their eyes to the untapped potential of Bamboo.
Where did the idea come from?
“From my wife, Julie. The concept of turning the world’s fastest growing plant into a product was easy to understand and after a year of planning we launched The Cheeky Panda in 2016. Today, 70% of our customer base comes from retail, the other 30% from businesses. We can be found in retailers including Boots, WH Smith, Amazon, Ocado, Aldi and Morrions as well as over 1,000 independent stores and counting in the UK.”
Are we taking toilet roll?
“We started with toilet tissue, which became popular very quickly. Consumers and suppliers became fans and asked us to offer more lines. So the product range of toilet tissue, pocket tissues, facial tissues, kitchen towels, napkins, hand towels, handy wipes and baby wipes have all been driven by demand. Toilet tissue remains our best seller as customers tend to buy in bulk online.”
Where are you based and tell us about your supply chain?
“Everything we make is from 100% responsibly sourced Bamboo. It grows best in China so that’s where we source from. It’s important to note all our tissue products carry FSC accreditation, which means that the farming and manufacturing processes are audited to ensure they are ethical.
Our packaging is either biodegradable, recyclable, or completely plastic free and we are working towards eliminating all plastic from our range by 2020. Larger boxed orders arrive loose and unwrapped.
We are the first Vegan tissue in the UK – our ranges are Vegan and Cruelty Free. We don’t test on animals, or use any animal derived ingredients.”
“Spruce trees take 12-15 years to harvest, while one acre of Bamboo produces 15 times more than an acre of trees. In a world of stretched resources it’s a much more sustainable solution than flushing away our forests. And Bamboo is a grass so it regrows from the root meaning that there is no soil erosion and no fertilisers are required, unlike trees which when cut from the root need to be removed and replanted.
Bamboo grows up to one metre a day and it absorbs 30% more carbon and releases 35% more oxygen than trees, helping combat global warming.
Bamboo is also naturally kind to our skin and better suited to those with hay fever or certain allergies.
Emissions per sheet of The Cheeky Panda toilet paper are 31.0% lower (0.31 gCO2e) when compared to recycled toilet tissue and 65.5% lower (1.31 gCO2e) when compared to virgin source toilet tissue, according to a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) by Carbon Footprint Ltd. So cradle to grave, our footprint is the lowest in the industry.”
Is it bad news for Pandas?
“Pandas live in protected areas so you can’t use that Bamboo. There are 1,000 different types of bamboo we don’t use the same Bamboo that Pandas eat. Tissue used in the UK is globally sourced, mainly from the forests of Scandinavia, North America and South America so all tissue has a significant carbon footprint. Most of that comes from manufacturing so even recycled tissue has a carbon footprint. As Bamboo grows quickly it produces more Oxygen and absorbs more Carbon so it is a better option.”
Why not recycled paper, more commonly found in supermarkets?
“While recycled tissue doesn’t cut down trees, the bleaching and deinking chemicals used in production aren’t great for the environment or your skin.”
What about the competition?
“It’s good to have a bit of competition as it raises awareness of the sector. I think the big difference is that we have a full product range and the products are available through a lot more channels.”
Visit www.thecheekypanda.co.uk for more information.
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