Biodegradable Paper Tea Bags

291 words. Approx 1.5 mins to read.

We’re working on a fully biodegradable paper tea bag, making Co-op Food the first retailer to find a solution to the problem of plastic waste caused by the nation’s favourite beverage.

Many tea drinkers are blissfully unaware that the teabag from their daily cuppa is sealed using plastic. Even though it’s a relatively small amount, when you consider the six billion cups of tea that are brewed up every year in the UK, we are looking at around 150 tonnes of polypropylene – that’s an enormous amount of accumulated plastic waste that is either contaminating food waste compost collections or simply going to landfill.

A cup of tea is part of our national psyche, so we felt it was imperative that we fix the problem as soon as possible. We’re absolutely committed to reducing plastic in our packaging and want to ensure that tea lovers can enjoy a guilt-free brew.

Our famous Co-op 99 tea will be developed without polypropylene, which is an industry-wide method used to enable teabags to hold their shape. This could save nine tonnes of plastic every year from being dumped into household rubbish and compost collections.

A photo of Co-op Fairtrade 99 Tea Blend Tea Bags

Co-op Fairtrade 99 Tea Blend – Tea Bags

The new bio-degradable bag which is due to undergo rigorous testing in February could be on shelves later this year. Intended to be rolled out across the Co-op’s entire own-label standard tea range, it will be fully compostable in food waste collections after use.

This latest development is one of the many we’re making as part of our long-term ambition for 100% of our product packaging to be recyclable with an interim target of 80% by 2020. This includes reducing the use of unnecessary and hard-to-recycle plastic packaging and using more recycled content wherever possible.

Jo Whitfield,
Co-op Food CEO

Join the conversation! 25 Comments

  1. GREAT NEWS !

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. I always use red label loose tea. But you recently started packing it in plastic bag, not as it used to be in a paper bag.

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  3. Hi Geoff, thanks for the feedback, we’re working to make our packaging easier to recycle, you can find out more here http://coop.uk/2Bz1RCR ^SB

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  4. Thank you for this initiative I will certainly make a point of buying them.

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  5. Well done my favourite shop. Will be buying to support this initiative and hope other tea suppliers will follow your lead.

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  6. I had no idea. Thank you for enlightening me, and for your endeavours to stop this practise.

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  7. This is great news. But I do think that with other announcements from other businesses, The Co-op isn’t really leading this area anymore.

    I shop in The Co-op loads and would love it to go radical and only use plastic where all other options have been exhausted. Then I’d move even more of shopping over to The Co-op.

    There’s still tons of avoidable plastic in packaging especially on produce. Surely it can be replaced with paper?

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    • Completely agree. Iceland seem to be way ahead of Co-Op on this one. Can’t even buy a single tomato or onion at our local Co-Op.

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    • Hi Alex, thank you for your feedback. Not many consumers are aware of plastic in tea bags and so we are serving to educate those consumers to make the environmentally friendly choice when it comes to the nations favourite beverage. We’re also looking at ways of reducing packaging overall.
      We’re taking on board your feedback. Please do keep an eye on our blog for future updates on packaging. ^Siobhan

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  8. This is very good news and will save me having to pick tea bag bags out of the compost lol. Having said that can you explain the reasons behind changing the packaging of 99 Tea so that previously loose bags are now in non recyclable foil wrapping?

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  9. Is there a plastic-free packaging option for coffee being “brewed” too? I’d even swap to coffee beans if this was an option for my daily cuppa caffeine.

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  10. Good for you. I will spread the message.

    ________________________________

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  11. Fab, hope they hit the shelves soon- would be great if they were also unbleached.

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  12. Wonderful that the co-op are going to be having these, however as an ethical company I believe you need to be doing more. I was horrified the other day to see bags of bread rolls thrown away as they had reached sell by date. Such a waste of everything, the flour has been grown somewhere, baking the bread, transporting it,only to be thrown. I live in Brighton and there are so many homeless people on the streets and charities that would use it, why not donate it before it goes off.

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  13. Will they be used for all your own brand teabags? Decaf and fruit teas too?

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  14. How much development is required to change from non recyclable Black Plastic used in meat tray’s to White plastic trays ?

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  15. I have noticed when shopping at the co-op that all your cages are wrapped in plastic cling film wrap is this not just creating to the problem. I think you should more concerned about how cold your shops are compared to other stores I know it puts a lot of people off as this is not a good shopping experience.

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    • Hi Dave, the majority of delivery cages are not wrapped in plastic anymore. The only ones that are, are from our national distribution centre in Coventry. This only accounts for maybe 5-10% of stock we receive from Co-op depots.

      Which store have you noticed was cold? All of our stores have Energy management systems which ensure they are kept around 18-21 degrees, whilst using the least amount of energy to do so.

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      • Well having talked to staff about cages being wrapped in cling film your 5% _10% seems untrue as all the cages that recycle cardboard and plastic and also food waste are all wrapped in cling film. And I also found out co-op don’t give any of there staff a paid break. Come on co-op even fairtrade workers in 3rd world countries get a paid break
        I believe the co-op is going backwards rather than forward

        Liked by 1 person

  16. My local farncombe store is always very cold to shop in

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  17. […] making Co-op Fairtrade 99 Blend tea bags biodegradable […]

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  18. This is marvellous. Now please start wrapping all goods in paper, albeit greaseproof paper, instead of plastic. Totally fed with ubiquitous plastic, both visible and invisible. Need I specify that we want our paper or cardboard packaging exclusively using recycled paper and cardboard?

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Food, Food Policy