TEA – There’s nothing like a cup of tea….So you would think there is nothing more natural than a cup of tea wouldn’t you? Leaves simply picked, dried and packaged. Well that is until you learn that the majority of tea bags sold in the UK contain plastic.
Yes those little bags of flavour hide a secret. To stop them coming apart the majority are heat sealed, to allow this they contain polypropylene to help keep their shape and stop splitting when wet.
This means that they are not fully compostable, and rotting them down will leave tea bag skeletons in your compost and release plastic particles into the soil and thus the food chain as the worms will munch what’s in the soil, birds eat the worms, and so on….
So what is the answer, if you cannot do without a tea bag, go on-line and research, as the situation is changing all the time with more smaller brands ditching plastic.
There is a way forward, Clipper teas were the first bulk tea producer to make their bags plastic free! Not only that but they are still full of fairtrade tea, still unbleached and still sustainably sourced.
Clipper are unique in that they make their bags from the banana plant ensuring they are sustainable, plastic free, unbleached, and fully compostable as opposed to biodegradable in council waste streams.
We think this is great news and shows what that a volume tea company can do to make a change for the better as their approach makes their bags less polluting in manufacture than most other producers….
At the moment other than Clipper who have gone plastic free across all of their range. A number of brands sell biodegradable teabags, meaning you can dispose of them in your council food caddy without worrying about microplastics. These however are NOT easily compostable at home.
Abel & Cole and Teapigs use SoilOn, a corn-starch which incorporates biomass material (polylactic acid) originating from plants, but is not compostable at home.
Abel & Cole, Pukka, Teapig, Tetley’s catering range, Twinings pyramid range, Waitrose Duchy range, all now use biodegradable bags.
PG, possibly the biggest player in the market have converted to biodegradable bags across all their range. These again can go through a council waste scheme, and they say will eventually breakdown in a home composter.
Coop have yet to confirm they have joined the compostable / biodegradable list yet for its ’99’ range of tea but they have been saying for a while now that they will go away from plastic soon.
Like herbal? Again Clipper lead the way, but you can also go with Teapig, or Aldi specially selected herbal teas, whilst not compostable, their bags do not contain plastic and are biodegradable in commercial composting systems and bio-digesters. Pukka teas (part of Unilever) are a special case, the bag is compostable, but the sachet the tag and the wrapper is not, neither is it recyclable.
Unfortunately most tea bag boxes come wrapped in non-recyclable plastic which is an issue that suppliers seem to not be dealing with at the moment.
Yorkshire tea whilst not yet fully embracing plastic free tea bags have put information on their website about what they use in their packaging. 25% of the tea bag being plastic! Their info is here
What are we doing? We are generally using loose leaf tea in a pot, which is actually more cost effective, we also have loose leaf herbal, and Clipper tea bags for when we are feeling just plain lazy.
We can often be found in the North London suburb of Muswell Hill, from there we always pop into the wonderfully old fashioned Martyn’s and pick up loose leaf tea from this independent supplier.