We recently caught up with Chris Forbes, Co-Founder of The Cheeky Panda®, the company behind loo rolls and tissues made from 100% responsibly sourced FSC bamboo.

The brand was created by entrepreneurs Chris and Julie in January 2016, after a holiday trip to Southeast Asia where they were exposed to the fact that the vast majority of bamboo was not fully utilised. 

The company has also gained the attention of Tycoon Sir Richard Branson and attracted celebrity supporters such as Joanna Lumley and Dame Judi Dench.

Where did the idea for the company 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 at retailers including Boots, WH Smith, Amazon, Ocado, Aldi and Morrions and in over 1,000 independent stores in the UK.”

Summarise your range of products?
“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, handtowels, 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 the supply chain?
“Everything we make is from 100% 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! 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 & Cruelty Free. We don’t test on animals, or use any animal derived ingredients.”

Why Bamboo?
“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 1 meter a day. Bamboo absorbs 30% more carbon and releases 35% more oxygen than trees helping combat global warming.

Bamboo is also naturally kind to skin. The fibres and longer and smoother creating a strong silky feel with less dust particles, reducing irritation for people with hay fever or sensitive skin.

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, 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.”

How does your brand to compare to competitors? 
“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. 

You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.

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