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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.
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.
Co-op Food CEO