Plastic Free Tea Bags
When we think about having a nice cup of tea, most of us prefer to use tea bags over brewing loose tea leaves, due to their convenience. Their delicate thin bag has helped us to assume that these tea bags are completely compostable, however in 2019, some major tea companies were called to account and admitted having plastic components in their tea bags.
In this investigation many tea bags were found to be made with polypropylene (a non-recyclable and non-biodegradable plastic fibre) that manufacturers use to keep their tea bags from breaking apart. It was also disclosed that steeping a tea bag in hot water, at about 95˚C, will cause it to release an unwanted number of microplastics into our drink!
Following these findings, tea drinkers have been urged to use their voice and speak out to brands with a call for plastic free tea bags or fully biodegradable tea bags with compostable packaging. As although some brands do provide compostable plastic free tea bags are continuing to be packaged and sold in plastic packaging, this can also be true with some loose tea leaves.
It is estimated that around 167 million tea bags are binned or composted every day in the UK alone, with many of these still ending up in landfill, if these tea bags have plastic components, then these will take hundreds of years to finally break down and then only into microplastics causing harm to land and sea creatures.
It is best therefore to look at more eco-friendly plastic free tea bags for continued use of our tea. Look for labels of biodegradable tea bags and try to check if these are made from by-products of corn starch, maize starch, or sugar starch, as after use these tea bags will completely decompose in about 90 days in your home compost or garden.
Whilst many leading tea manufacturers are switching to plant-based materials in making their tea bags and starting to produce plastic free tea bags and fully biodegradable tea bags, it is also important to consider the outer packaging.
Some manufacturers still wrap the box in non-recyclable packaging and still others in plastic packaging inside the box bagging up a number of tea bags. They do this to protect from water ingress, however there are plastic free alternatives for this. So again, look for packaging wraps made from by-products of corn starch, maize starch, or sugar starch or better still with no wrapping and simply sold in either paper or cardboard only.
We also recommend looking for plastic free tea bags which are stitched rather than glued, preferably packed with Nature-Flex material from wood pulp, as some glues could also be damaging to insects when degrading down.
By choosing the right brand of tea that supports the movement to eliminating plastic waste you will also generally find that these have other ethical benefits of being fair trade, so why not start by looking for plastic free biodegradable tea bags and enjoy your cup of tea guilt-free!
Click here to see some options for normal tea bags.
Click here for a popular option of fruity tea from a well-known company.