An estimated 6 billion cups of tea are brewed in the UK every year and that's 150 tonnes of polypropylene waste. Polypropylene is the plastic used to seal the teabags and enable them to hold their shape and is widely used in most teabags.
The Co-op, which sells 4.6m boxes of its own-brand Fairtrade 99 tea a year (367m teabags) has joined forces with its tea supplier, Typhoo, and Ahlstrom-Munksjö – specialists in sustainable fibre solutions – to develop a method of heat-sealing bags to eliminate the more widely used plastic seal.
The fully biodegradable teabags are in final testing stage now and the Co-op plan to have them on the shelves later this year.
“Many tea drinkers are blissfully unaware that the teabag from their daily cuppa is sealed using plastic,” said Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food told the Guardian. “Even though it’s a relatively small amount, when you consider the 6bn cups of tea that are brewed up every year in the UK, we are looking at around 150 tonnes of polypropylene – that’s an enormous amount of accumulated plastic waste that is either contaminating food waste compost collections or simply going to landfill.”
Join the war on plastic waste and opt for loose tea or biodegradable tea bags