PG Tips to ditch plastic with fully biodegradable tea bags

The UK’s leading tea brand PG Tips is switching to fully biodegradable tea bags in a bid to reduce plastic pollution, it was announced on Wednesday (28 February).

The Unilever-owned brand’s iconic pyramid tea bags will be given an eco-friendly makeover, with new bags being made from a plant-based material which is 100 per cent biodegradable and compostable. The first of the new products is set to hit the shelves from next week, with the company expecting to make the rest of its teabags plastic-free by the end of the year.

Tea bags prove problematic as waste due to the presence of the plastic sealant polypropylene, which is used to keep the tea bag together and hold its shape while it is left to brew in hot water, although the official guidance from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is still to compost tea bags, as more research is needed to discern their contribution to the influx of microplastics into the soil and marine environment.

PG Tips to ditch plastic with fully biodegradable tea bags
The sealant polypropylene allows the tea bag to maintain its structure while in hot water.

Read Resource’s article on tea bags and what to do with them.

Commenting on the announcement, Noel Clarke, Vice President of Refreshment at Unilever, told the Guardian: “Tea is the most consumed beverage in the UK, with nine billion PG tips tea bags sold every year. Our latest move maintains the same great taste of our tea whilst minimising our environmental impact.”

The impact of mishandled plastic waste on the environment has been catapulted to the forefront of public consciousness in recent times, thanks in large part to David Attenborough’s BBC series Blue Planet II, which brought the issue into stark relief. Plastic was also a main focus of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which committed the UK to eliminating ‘avoidable’ plastic waste by 2042.

PG Tips isn’t the first tea range to move to make its products fully plastic-free, with supermarket the Co-op announcing that it is to launch a fully biodegradable paper tea bag for use in its own-brand tea by the end of 2018, starting with its Fairtrade 99 blend.

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