Almost every tea bag sold in the UK now contains plastic, according to Ethical Consumer magazine.
The population of Britain drinks 165 million cups of tea a day, or two and a half per person.
Tea bags used to be just made of muslin or paper. But in recent years, companies have started using 20-30% polypropylene alongside paper fibre.
The UK’s biggest brands have all reportedly admitted to using plastic polymers, including Tetley’s, Yorkshire Tea, Taylors, Clipper, Co-op, Aldi, and Twinings. Jacksons of Piccadilly, Pukka and Teapigs are the only other major brands that claim not to use plastic in their teabags.
Earlier this year, Unilever, owner of the PG Tips brand, the best-selling tea brand in the UK, pledged to remove plastic from its teabags by the end of 2018, after 200,000 people signed a petition mounted by a Wrexham gardener. (38 Degrees had a similar petition.) PG Tips said its teabags would be made from a new plant-based material that is 100% renewable and biodegradable, to help reduce their environmental impact.
Wrap, a registered charity that works with government, businesses and individuals to reduce waste, continues to advise composting tea bags as the most environmentally friendly option. But until all tea producers go plastic-free, loose-leaf tea is the environmental choice.
Source: Ethical Consumer, 38 Degrees