Do tea bags contain plastic? – The Sun

Do tea bags contain plastic? – The Sun

BRITS live up to their tea-loving stereotype, enjoying a whopping 60.2billion cups every year.

But do we know what's in our favourite cuppa? Let's take at a look at how we can avoid pesky plastic in our brew.

Do teabags contain plastic?

New research suggests that cups of tea could be contaminated with millions of microscopic plastic particles, The Independent reports.

Polypropylene is used to seal around 96 per cent of tea bags sold in the UK.

Researchers from McGill University treated water fleas with micro and nanoplastics from tea bags, and found they displayed some anatomical and behavioural abnormalities.

Further research is needed to know if plastic from tea has an adverse effect on humans, but the initial findings are serious.

Which brands of tea use a plastic sealant?

What tea bags can I use?

1) Paper and plastic teabags

Though you'd think they were just made of paper, most teabags tend to be held together with a plastic heat sealant.

This non-biodegradable polypropylene can make up around 25 per cent of the bag.

Recycling experts advise you can still compost the teabags, but there are concerns they could leave microplastics in the soil that could be harmful to humans, as well as animals.

By 2018, leading brands including Co-Op and PG Tips had all responded to public pressure and switched to 100 per cent compostable bags.

Lidl says its teabags currently use polypropylene, but it makes up just 1-2 per cent of the seal.

The supermarket is currently exploring the option of using fully biodegradable polymers.

Tetley thermoplastic for the seal.

Yorkshire Tea is aiming to switch over to plant-based material by the end of 2019.

It's worth double-checking the individual product as some brands have different types of teabags.

2) Compostable and biodegradable teabags

A number of brands sell biodegradable teabags, meaning you can dispose of them in your council food caddy without worrying about microplastics.

Abel & Cole and Teapigs use SoilOn, a corn-starch which incorporates biomass material (polylactic acid) originating from plants.

Other brands use purely plant-based products such as Clipper, which has launched a plastic-free, compostable teabag made from bananas.

While Pukka uses organic strings to hold the bags together.

It's important to note that any bags made with SoilOn bioplastics cannot be placed in your home composter or your landfill bin, as they need a certain temperature to break down.

However, they're 100 per cent biodegradable and CAN be put in your council organic waste bin.

Biodegradable teabags:

  • Abel & Cole
  • Clipper
  • Pukka
  • Teapigs
  • Tetley's catering range
  • Twinings pyramid range
  • Waitress Duchy range

Teabags with a plastic sealant:

  • Aldi
  • Typhoo
  • Twinings
  • Taylors of Harrogate
  • Yorkshire Tea
  • Betty’s Tea

Loose tea

The greenest thing of all is just to use loose tea in a pot, or in a cup with or without a strainer.

Do this and you can very happily dispose of your leaves in a home or council food compost, without any fears of microplastics creeping into your soil.

You can also use reusable teabags, a tea ball infuser or just a good old-fashioned teapot.


If you're thinking about plastics in your teabags, you're probably not immune to the packaging all this tea might come in.

Nearly all brands are wrapped in some kind of plastic, either in the main packaging or around the individual teabag.

To encourage brands to improve their behaviour, email or tweet the companies in question and get them to reduce their plastic output.

Now for a cup of tea…

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