Plastic-free PG tips

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 1 March 2018

From the end of the year, PG tips tea bags will no longer hold their shape due to polypropylene - a heat-resistant plastic sealant. Owners, Unilver, have announced they’re going to be using a 100% plant based material making their bags fully biodegradable.

Tea Bag
© Pasi Mämmelä

Us Brits love a brew but perhaps we’ll love ones that are plastic free even more! It’s yet another step in stopping the plastic tide.

Dr Sue Kinsey,
MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer

Polypropylene is used to seal teabags and stop them disintegrating in the cup.

Brits drink around 165 million cups of tea a day, that’s 62 billion cups a year and many tea bags contain polypropylene.

Tetley, Yorkshire Tea and Twinings have previously said that their teabags contain polypropylene. Yorkshire Tea said they were “actively developing plant-based and biodegradable alternatives”.

In January, the Co-op announced plans to test a biodegradable teabag within its own-brand range.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, says it’s another step in the right direction: “It’s a great move by Unilever to make this change in such a high profile brand. Lets hope that other tea bag brands will follow suit. Us Brits love a brew but perhaps we’ll love ones that are plastic free even more! It’s yet another step in stopping the plastic tide.”

Unilever made the move after a gardener form Wrexham began an online petition when he found fluff left behind in his compost heap and discovered it was coming from his tea bags. Michael Armitagcollected over 230,000 signatures which he presented to Unilever’s CEO calling for the removal of his bags plastic content.

Unilever say the tea bags “will eventually break down into its natural parts” but are advising consumers to discard them in their food waste bins.

Actions you can take

  1. Help us stop the plastic tide
  2. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017

Did you know?…

Litter has increased by 135% since 1994, with plastics increasing by a staggering 180%

UK Seas provide us with resources from fish to renewable marine energy

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles

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