Who doesn’t love a brew? It’s no secret that us brits love a cuppa but are you aware that some tea brands still use plastic in their tea bags, meaning that you could be ingesting harmful materials and when you dispose of them you could also be harming the planet? Here is a list of our favorite non plastic tea bag brands that still taste wonderful and are also biodegradable to help the planets eco system.
Tea Drinking Stats UK
So, before we start let us just admit that tea is the best drink in the world. There is 100’s of varieties of tea which is not surprising as tea is one of the oldest beverages and was discovered around 2700BC. Statista also share that Tea is the second most popular drink in the world, only beaten by water. In 2017 (and has not changed much to date) 68% of people drank tea per day. 37% had two to three cups and 21% drinking between four to five cups. The average person consumes on average 265 litres of tea per year spending approximately £12,500 in their lifetime on this beverage.
Can I Compost Tea Bags?
The simple answer is sometimes. The contents of tea bags can always be composted but the issue often begins with the bag itself. Most teabags contain a small number of micro plastics, (Polypropylene). This material helps the manufacturer when sealing the tea bag. It is impossible to compost these small particles, even during a commercial composting effort.
At this point it is important to note the difference between compost and biodegradable. The website TeaPigs have a great blog about the differences when applied to tea bags but in short, biodegradable means that it will eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces by natural processes whereas if something is compostable, the materials that have been certified to break down completely into non-toxic components (water, carbon dioxide, and biomass) that will not harm the environment, given the right conditions. Although both sound great the unfortunate side of being biodegradable is that there is the time in which it taken to break down is open ended. It could be 6 months, or it could be 60 years.
What tea brands are using instead of plastic
Some tea brands have decided to become more eco-friendly and rather than make tea bag using the mirco plastics they are opting for a polymer fiber derived from plant starch which is obviously healthier for the body and for the planet. As with many solutions there are often teething issues and here the issue is that the starch is often sourced from genetically modified crops and can still takes a long time to degrade in a regular home compost pile.
Plastic free tea bag brands
During our research for an ethical tea company, we found five that we really liked. They were involved in sustainability initiatives, using non plastic tea bags, and making the effort to be an eco-friendly as possible with recyclable packaging. To make this list they also had to be tasty and make a good brew. So, in no order here are our five favorite plastic free tea bags.
PG Tips – They are very honest in explaining their previous bags used a small amount of plastic in the manufacturing process, but they are now happy to move over to a 100% plant-based option which uses corn starch as opposed to polypropylene. Also, PG Tips taste amazing! Check out their sustainability page on their website for more information.
Brew Tea Company
Based in Manchester, England, this company use a organic material called Soilon for their teabags and highlight on their product pages how to dispose of their packaging properly and safely. Their clear packaging is made from NatureFlex and they also have an extensive range of Loose-Leaf Tea options. Their becoming plastic free blog has a lot of useful information on what they are doing and plan to do in the future.
The local retailer switched from using polypropylene polymers to using biodegradable bags which can be sealed using a heat press process. They have also made a concerted effort to replace many of their products with recyclable alternatives. Their sustainability page highlights which products they have changed and how this will diminish the need to use landfills.
This tea company have used plastic free teabags since the launch of their pyramid bags in October 2014. Instead of the harmful microplastics they have opted to use a maize/ corn starch. Their goals include by 2025 ensuring that, in all our markets, our consumer packaging is reusable, or recyclable and our tea bags are compostable. Read more about Twinings working with care initiative.
A new company on our list but started their beginnings with ethics and sustainability at their core. They source from sustainable estates and were the 1st tea company to be certified Plastic-Free. On their sustainability page they highlight what their tea bags (and rest of their packaging) is made from plus their introduction of loose-leaf teas which use no bags at all. Read more about Tea Pigs here.
There are many other companies and brands that are making strides in becoming eco-friendlier and more conscious of their impact on the planet. These were just a few of our personal favorites.
Are there alternatives to tea bags?
Yes! You can still enjoy a tasty brew (and they are often tastier) without having to use a tea bag. A few options are.
- Basket infusers
- Tea balls
- Stick infusers
- Tea pot with strainer or infuser