A little-known fact until relatively recently was that most tea bags do in fact contain plastic! More often than not tea bags are or were heat sealed with a small amount of polypropylene and unwittingly consumers have been disposing of them thinking they were more than fit for their compost heaps!
Many tea companies are now making the move to go plastic-free with regards to their tea bags at least. The packaging surrounding the tea bags may take some time longer to do the same. Whilst many of the big manufacturers have signed up to the WRAP Plastics Pact, which commits them to finding a sustainable solution in the longer term, ie. by 2025, that still seems a long way off.
For now we wanted to check out the latest situation with the major players with regards to their actual bags, so here is the rundown of who is doing what right now and what you can sup knowing it is plastic-free!
Clipper Teas announced the launch of the ‘World’s first’ plastic-free in 2018 made out of unbleached and non-GM tea bag paper. Added bonus! They were also the first company to become Fair Trade in 1994 so their ethical credentials look good.
Yorkshire Tea are also in the process of changing over to plastic-free tea – the plastic they have been using to seal their tea bags is going to be replaced with a renewable plant-based material. They have started the switch over and their aim is for all their UK tea bags to be plastic free by the end of 2019.
PG Tips are a little less specific about their plans! They announced in February 2018 that they would be going plastic free and that their products are gradually changing over, but I guess it is worth checking the packaging to see if they have hit the shelves yet!
Pukka Teas also appear to have squeaky clean environmental credentials as one would expect, although are sadly lacking in a good old fashioned ‘builders’ variety tea range! If well-being is your thing though, they are a great option!
Bird & Blend Company are a lesser known brand who produce a lovely range of mainly loose leaf teas, which come in beautiful stainless steel caddies! No plastic packaging at all. Their tea bag range is small but perfectly environmentally formed with no plastic therein!
Not-So Plastic-Free Brands
Tetley don’t appear to have made the change yet, unfortunately, which is a shame because it is my favourite brand, but we must make our purchasing choices based on our conscience!
Twinings also do not appear to have any specific information about their tea bags on their website. They do say that their loose leaf pyramid tea bags are plastic free, but no other plans are mentioned. Personally, I have a problem with their new Cold Infusions ranges too – product development gone mad, creating more waste when most of us can slice a piece of fruit and put it in our water bottles!
Disposing of Your Plastic-Free Tea Bags
In most cases the tea companies recommend your tea bags still go into your food waste caddy for proper processing by your local authority along with other food waste, although in theory, they can into your home compost – they will just take longer to break down.
We’ll be doing a full trawl of how the supermarket own brands are doing next, but hopefully, this is enough for you to start making some informed choices about what you buy!
And if you want the low down on what constitutes a ‘plastic-free’ tea, then check out this brilliant blog by ardent earl grey drinker, from Earthkind Shop.
If you have any other information about other brands, we’d be delighted to hear. Please do get in touch!