My discovery during Plastic Free July that teabags contain plastic made me mad. It made me really mad. Why, I wondered, when I generally drink loose leaf tea anyway? I came up with two reasons. (Well, three reasons. ‘Generally’ means I do drink tea made from teabags occasionally.) Firstly, the information I read stated that all teabag producers use plastic in their teabags…except one. That is the key. If one company can make plastic-free teabags, then it’s obviously possible – so why don’t the others? The second reason was that the Sustainability Officer for Teadirect (the Sustainability Officer, no less!), was quoted as saying this: “Most consumers don’t notice [the polypropylene] and probably don’t care.” Don’t notice?! Don’t care?! I think what’s more relevant is that consumers probably don’t know. What’s more, I care, and I know plenty of other people who also care…including Plastic is Rubbish and WestyWrites who have also been raising awareness, contacting tea companies to find out what their teabags are made of, and complaining about this use of plastic! Whether we’re in the minority or not, we still exist! So we’ve decided to do something about it, and we’d love you to join us!
The Campaign for Plastic-Free Tea
Taking that quote that made me so cross, and turning it round, I want all these tea companies to know that actually, people DO notice, and what’s more, they care, too.
I’d love you all to tell these companies that you don’t like plastic in your teabags, and you want them to change. I want to make it as easy as possible for you, so I’ve done the legwork and got all the contact details I could find for some of the more popular teabag companies. If you have another you’d like me to add, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to this list!
Even if a company doesn’t sell products in your part of the world, don’t feel like you just have to stick to your little corner! Complain away!
Your Mission…Should You Choose to Accept it…
Choose how you prefer to contact each company. I’ve listed email addresses, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, if they have them. Use the hashtag #plasticfreetea on social media so we can find your comments!
Clipper tea use plastic in their square bags, but not in the individual string bags, as found out by The Snail of Happiness who wrote a letter and received this response:
“We can confirm that certain types of tea bags do contain polymer fibres. Standard square or round tea bags which are the most common in the UK market will all contain a type of polymer fibre as they are made using heat-sealable filter paper. The tea bag filter paper requires a means of sealing the two layers of paper together as paper will not stick to paper and glue is not used. The filter paper Clipper uses for this type of tea bag contains polypropylene to provide the heat-seal function. The filter paper is food grade for its intended purpose and meets all relevant UK and EU Regulations.
The filter paper used to produce tea bags with the string and tag attached does not need to be heat-sealable, as it is closed differently, and therefore does not contain any polymer fibres/plastic content.”
Contact Clipper and tell them we don’t want plastic in our teabags!
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yorkshire Tea informed @Westywrites via Twitter that:
“There’s an incredibly fine plastic mesh woven into the teabag for strength and structure.”
Contact Yorkshire Tea: contact form via their website
PG Tips informed Westywrites via phone that:
“There is a small amount of plastic in the tea bags to hold the bag together.”
Contact PG Tips: contact form via their website
Twothirdswild contacted Nerada about potential plastic in their teabags, and was told:
“There are cellulose and thermo-plastic fibres in the bags which are necessary to seal the product! Their bags are however, made from manila hemp, which has been oxygen whitened, not treated with chlorine or chlorine based compounds.”
Contact Nerada: contact form via their website
The information I read from 2010 stated Twinings use plastic in their teabags, but I’m yet to discover if it’s still the case. Chances are, it is.
Twinings operate in 100 countries. Find your local contact information here.
Contact Twinings UK: contact form via their website.
Tea-Drinking Not Your Thing?
You don’t have to be a tea-drinker to join in, just a plastic-hater! Most of us have accepted that to drink tea and avoid plastic we’ll have to switch to loose leaf tea, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be letting companies know our disappointment – if they don’t know, they won’t have any reason to change.
We can all do our bit to reduce our plastic waste through our consumption, but we can also take things to the next level and speak out about plastic in our products. Maybe teabags didn’t make you mad – but I bet something else did! If you kept a dilemma bag during Plastic-Free July, have a look and see what companies produced these products – and send them a message. I’ll be joining the Plastic Free July team on Thursday night for the Plastic Free July finale, and as well as a celebration there’s gonna be a letter-writing frenzy as we all contact these companies and tell them what we think!
Have you complained to any companies about plastic in their products? What was their response? If you haven’t already – it’s not too late to join in! Please make sure you share who you wrote to and how they replied. Any other thoughts? Leave a comment below!