Consumer goods giant Unilever announced it will remove traces of plastic from PG Tips tea bags and make them fully biodegradable. To achieve this, the company is replacing the polypropylene used as a sealant on the bags with a cornstarch-based material. They also hope to make all of their tea bags biodegradable by the end of 2018 as well.
The first 100 percent biodegradable plant-based pyramid teabags from the Unilever-owned PG Tips, the UK’s biggest tea brand, will go on sale in UK supermarkets next week, the Guardian reports.
The plastic sealant might not seem to make a huge impact, but when you consider that nine billion PG tips teabags are sold every year, and an estimated 165 million cups of tea are drunk every day in the UK ANY 96 percent of these cups of tea use tea bags, you can start to see how all that polypropylene adds up. “Our latest move maintains the same great taste of our tea while minimizing our environmental impact,” said Noel Clarke, vice president of refreshment at Unilever.
Plant-based alternatives for the traditional tea bags have been explored by Unilever’s scientists for some time now. In Canada, Poland, and Indonesia tea ranges have already been converted to the new packaging version.
According to a 2010 report, a vast majority of UK teabags are only between 70-80 percent biodegradable. The amount of plastic found in many tea bags is very small – but that does not render it harmless. Small individual pieces of the material as well as microplastics, like microbeads and plastic fibers, quickly accumulate and prove to be greatly dangerous to the environment and its wildlife. In short, the less plastic, the better!
If you’re looking for a plastic-free cup of tea but aren’t sure if your favorite brand is biodegradable or not, try contacting the company. Opting for loose leaf tea and a reusable tea ball is also a great way to cut down on waste with your daily tea fix.
To find out how you can help the planet by limiting your plastic usage, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
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