An incredible 165 million cups of tea are consumed by the British public per day – despite being the UK’s favourite drink, the by-product of a cup of tea usually ends up on a landfill. Therefore it is important that each household dispose of their tea bags responsibly.
The good news is there are some innovative tea brands who can help you enjoy tea in a more responsible way. We’ve answered some of the most common questions to help you choose a sustainable tea brand.
Biodegradable vs. compostable tea bags – what is the difference?
The main difference between compostable and biodegradable tea bags is that compostable tea bags require a specific environment in order to break down, whereas biodegradable tea bags break down naturally.
Why is it important to buy plastic-free tea bags?
Traditionally, tea companis have used polypropylene, an oil-based plastic to keep their tea bags together, which is neither recyclable or biodegradable. Tea bags sealed with polypropylene cannot be disposed of via a food waste bin or compost heap, as the tea bag is unable to fully break down and can cause lead to plastic pollution.
At Birchall we pride ourselves in being ethical tea producers. Our tea bags are plant-based and therefore biodegradable, and – in the case of our Prism™ Tea Bags – have been for many years. We’re currently working on making sure all elements of our packaging, is fully sustainable too and we have now introduced inner bags that are industrially compostable and made from a renewable cellulose. We’re also particular about the non-tea part of our herbal blends, only ever using natural herbs – nothing artificial.
Our award-winning Prism™ Tea Bags are made from a biodegradable plant starch called “SoilOn”, which means that they will break down under certain environmental conditions and degrade most quickly (within 12 weeks) when disposed of through an industrial food waste system. We therefore strongly recommend that you find out from your local council if it offers a food waste recycling collection service in your area and if so, discard them using this.
Our Everyday Tea Bags are now made from a newly-developed plant-based tissue that is 100% renewable, fully compostable and like our Prism™ Tea Bags, will biodegrade, as long as you dispose of them through your food waste.
We are constantly looking for new ways to be more sustainable, and we’re delighted to announce that we’ve found and are rolling out a new renewable plant-based material for the sachets we use to individually wrap our Enveloped Prism™ Tea Bags. This individually-wrapped format is ideal for caterers and foodservice professionals as the sachets lock in freshness and optimise taste and, also, protect the Prism™ tea bags inside from compromising external environmental factors such as light and strong aromas.
Beyond the bag – Where does my tea come from?
There are some simple ways to tell if your tea is sourced sustainably. Has your tea brand received many ethical credentials, such as the Rainforest Alliance certification on any of their teas, helping ensure sustainable agriculture? Is your tea Fairtrade? Are they a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership? Who make sure tea producers meet social and environmental standards:
● Addressing issues that tea workers face in their community, such as poor nutrition and exploitation.
● Improving sustainable practices of tea farms, assisting producers and farmers to improve environmental management practices.
As long standing members of the Ethical Tea Partnership we were delighted that they recently announced, to date they have: “improved the lives of over 700,000 people in tea communities. By the end of 2020 we will have changed the lives of over one million people.”
View all of Birchall’s ethical credentials here.
We believe that brands in the tea industry have a social responsibility to ensure that we contribute towards the global war on plastic. With a vast selection of Birchall teas on offer, there hasn’t been a better time for you to make the switch.
If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in learning that we have become the first tea company in the world to achieve the Carbon Neutral Gold Standard. This means that all of our products – including our award-winning Great Rift Breakfast Blend – are now completely Carbon Neutral. Read more here.
● Ethical Tea Partnership