If you are confused about plastic in your teabags, you’re not the only one!
This BBC article on the use of oil based and plant based bio-plastic in teabags helps to debunk some of the information around teabags and how you can dispose of them safely.
If you haven’t got time to read through the article now, for us, the most important piece of information was that although many big brands are moving away from the very harmful oil based plastic used in teabags, many are now using plant based bio-plastics. We think this is a fantastic step forward in the fight against needless single use plastic that won’t biodegrade and will be around for future generations to deal with. The one negative of bio-plastics is that, although they will biodegrade and are safe to put in your home compost bins, if they go into general rubbish and end up in our oceans, they don’t biodegrade.
Our decision at home has been that where we can we use the Zero Waste Tea Strainer or a tea pot and use loose leaf in a caddy which we refill at our nearest naked product shop. We tried buying loose leaf tea in carboard boxes but found that all packed the tea inside in plastic bags and in such small quantities, we felt the plastic was excessive. The tea strainers are perfect for holding fresh ginger, peppermint leaves or other flowers/herbs so you can remove them easily from your cup when your infusion is ready for drinking. For more specialist teas that we haven’t been able to find a loose leaf version of, we buy Pukka who are completely plastic free and use a stich of cotton to seal their bags rather than heat sealing them with plastic or Clipper who with use bio-plastic which will decompose in a matter of weeks in our home compost bin.
This excerpt from the BBC article gives a low down on the top six teabag brands:-
"A rundown of the biggest brands:
Are standard teabags plastic free? No. The Twinings traditional teabag range contains a small amount of oil-based plastic. From January 2020, the range will become plant-based and will biodegrade in industrial composting. It says some of its "tag" teabags are plastic free - they are made from a plant-based paper material that is folded and stitched with cotton
How do you dispose of the teabag? The bin
Are standard tea bags plastic free? No. PG Tips announced in February 2018 that it was planning to switch to fully biodegradable, plant-based teabags. Its website currently states that it is moving towards "fully biodegradable teabags" and has already produced one billion
How do you dispose of the teabag? The bin
Are standard tea bags plastic free? No. Yorkshire Tea says it explored many options before deciding the best way to remove oil-based plastic quickly was to use the bio-plastic PLA to seal its bags, so that it can continue to make high volumes of tea with its existing set-up in Harrogate. It says in the future it "hopes to go completely plastic free"
How do you dispose of the tea bag? Currently the bin. The new bag will go in the household food bin collected by the council
Are standard teabags plastic free? No. Tetley says its teabags contain a small amount of plastic material (0.04g per bag) so that they can be heat-sealed. It anticipates beginning to introduce fully biodegradable teabags for its core ranges in 2020. It says its goal is to "eliminate" plastic completely
How do you dispose of the tea bag? The bin
Are standard tea bags plastic free? Yes. Its owner, Pukka Herbs, says it doesn't heat-seal the edges of teabags, instead it uses a simple stitch of organic cotton and what it calls "a unique folding process". It says this is "a more costly and complex process". It individually wraps each teabag and it expects all its blends to be in its new recyclable envelope by the end of 2019(it started rolling it out in May 2018)
How do you dispose of the teabag? On a home compost - or if you don't have one, the household food bin collected by the council
Are standard teabags plastic free? Clipper describes the teabag as plastic free, but the bags contain a "renewable, plant-based bio-polymer" - also known as a bio-plastic. It says it is exploring a number of green packaging initiatives, including improving recyclability and reducing packaging weight
How do you dispose of the teabag? The household food bin collected by the council
Source : Teabags: Is there plastic in yours? By Katie Wright BBC News 6 November 2019 – full article in link above