Following the publicity in 2018 relating to plastic in tea bags resulting in difficulties composting the bags and the more serious issue of microparticles of plastic getting in the soil and ground water I have revised the topic to see what progress
has been made. The original 2018 entries have been left on this page for reference.
The situation regarding Plastic free teabags is confusing as many manufacturers seem to be describing products as plastic free where they contain plastic
from biological sources rather than a petroleum-based source. The bioplastic is usually made for corn starch and it seems the use of such materials will increase. These are regarded by some scientists as a plastic. (The clue might be in the
The UK Plastics Pact, encourages the switch to “compostable” materials for teabags.
So it is important
to check the manufacturers web-site and the product label in order to avoid trying to home compost material which will require industrial composting so as to avoid contaminating the soil, water course and seas by trying to home compost unsuitable
A report by Katie Wright for BBC News on 6 November 2019 ((https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50260687) and an Item in the Independent was the basis for the follow summary
published a summary of the situation.
Brew Tea uses cornstarch in their bags. All the boxes of tea are plastic-free and contains a plastic-free tea card which explains the types of material used to
pack the tea and the best way to recycle them.
Clipper describes its teabag as “plastic free” but they are made of bio-plastic a plant-based bio-polymer". The actual bags made from abaca plants,
are unbleached, organic and Fairtrade,
Hampstead Tea whole leaf home compostable pyramids are made GM-free sugar starch. The inner plastic-look pouch that holds the tea is also home compostable in about 90 days.
PG Tips is still planning to move to "fully biodegradable teabags" and has already produced one billion
does not heat-seal the edges of teabags, using an organic cotton stitch of and folding
process to seal the bags. The tea bags can be home composed. It individually wraps each teabag and it expects all its blends to be in its new recyclable envelope by the end of 2019.
Teapigs, the "tea temples” contain
the bio-plastic PLA from corn starch arebiodegradable bags. The clear box “plastic” inner natureflex bag is compostable
Tetley teabags still contain a small amount of plastic material (0.04g per bag) It anticipates
beginning to introduce fully biodegradable teabags for its core ranges in 2020
Twinings pyramid tea bags are made from maize starch but each bag has a label attached that is covered in plastic
and will need to be removed before composting. Twinings traditional teabag range should be using bioplastic rather than oil based from 2020,
Some of its "tag" teabags are plastic free being made from a plant-based paper material
that is folded and stitched with cotton
We Are Tea The tea bags are 100% plastic free and 100% biodegradable. They are made from SOILON, a biproduct of corn starch. The teabags are
sealed by ultrasound (not glue) and do not have tags. They can be home composted, but it will take at least 18 months.