Does your tea bag contain plastic? If it does, consider changing to a more environmentally friendly one!

Tea is an integral part of British culture, the drink not only functioned as a tasty staple in our everyday lives but also helped reduce the spread of waterborne diseases due to the boiling process. However, the environmental impact of the tea bags used by tea companies could be serious.

As sustainability becomes a growing concern, consumers are increasingly demanding greener alternatives. Tea companies in the UK have acknowledged this change and are taking action to address the environmental challenges associated with tea bags. Many of them are reevaluating their manufacturing processes and materials, replacing oil-based plastic tea bags with eco-friendly bags.  

Traditional tea bags often obtain a non-biodegradable plastic called polyethene, which is used to seal the bag. Researchers from McGill University in Montreal, Canada published has published a study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology that suggests that plastic tea bags released billions of microscopic plastic particles in your cup. This problem has sparked the need for change. 

In terms of the biodegradable and compostable tea bags. Tea companies are innovating materials like cornstarch or plant-based fibres to create tea bags that could break down naturally. Prof Mark Miodownik, a materials specialist at University College London, says most plastics are made from petrochemicals, but some – known as bio-plastics – are created using plant-based materials, such as corn or potato. This kind of tea bag is entirely natural, and much more environmentally friendly.

An article by Country Living discovered that by 2022 Clipper, PG Tips, Pukka Herbs, Teapigs and other five brands are using plastic-free tea bags. Pukka said that they use a stitch of cotton instead of heat-sealing its bags. 

Tea Bag
Tea bag

Certification bodies such as the Soil Association and Rainforest Alliance are playing a crucial role in ensuring tea bag sustainability. By certifying tea brands, they ensure that the entire supply chain adheres to strict environmental and ethical standards. Look out for their logos on tea packaging to support sustainable choices.

Sustainability extends beyond the tea bag itself. Tea gardens across the UK are adopting sustainable agricultural practices. From organic farming techniques to water conservation methods, these initiatives protect the land, promote biodiversity, and maintain the delicate balance of nature.

For environmentalists who still don’t believe that tea bags from current tea companies on the market are plastic-free, they can choose to purchase loose tea leaves and use a tea strainer or a teapot with a basket strainer. These are reusable methods that reduce single-use items and save energy.

Overall, the UK tea industry is taking steps to achieve sustainability, with biodegradable options and responsible farming practices leading the way. By choosing tea bags that prioritise the environment, we can also be the one that brews a greener future.