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Wednesday, 18 January 2023 10:19

Tesco set to make teabags compostable as customers confused over plastic sealant

Tesco is set to make all its tea bags compostable via food caddies by the summer – more than one billion bags a year - ditching the plastic sealant within bags for a plant based alternative.

a New Tesco tea packets arrive in store 2023The initiative follows a new survey commissioned by Tesco, conducted by YouGov from a sample of 2000 UK adult customers, that's revealed its shoppers are split on what to do with their used tea bags with millions ending up rotting in landfill sites. 

With some tea bags being compostable and others not, shoppers are confused about which bin to put them in.

30 per cent of adults polled said that they knew tea bags contain plastic resulting in the confusion and leading to tea bags being discarded in the wrong way.

For decades, tea bag manufacturers have used a plastic, called polypropylene, to heat seal the bags in order to prevent the contents spilling out in the box or once hot water has been poured over them.

But now Tesco is to introduce plant-based tea bags which will allow shoppers to compost their tea bags through kerbside food waste collections.

And to overcome any further recycling confusion, Tesco's packets of tea will be labelled with information on the correct way to compost the tea bags in the food waste caddy.

The new labelling will state: "We now make our tea bags out of plant-based material. Once used put your tea bag into your food waste bin. Our tea bags biodegrade into compost."

Tesco Packaging Manager Adele Kearns said: "This is a huge move that will help clear up the confusion for millions of people on how to dispose of their tea bags once used.

"We hope that making all of our tea bags compostable with clear labelling helps our customers correctly do their bit for the environment."

a Tesco tea packet with composting instructionsThe first stage of the programme when all the supermarket's herbal and speciality tea lines will switch to the new plant-based, compostable tea bag format, is already underway.

By April 2023 the rest of Tesco's own label tea bags will have been replaced with a compostable plant-based material and by the summer, all of the billion tea bags sold by Tesco – own-brand and branded – will be compostable through home or council food waste collections.

The own-brand move includes some of the supermarket's most popular tea lines including: Tesco 240 Teabags; Tesco Extra Strong Tea 80 Bags; Tesco Finest Earl Grey 100 Tea Bags; Tesco Peppermint 40 Tea Bags and Tesco Finest English Breakfast 100 Tea Bags.

Adam Herriott, Sector Specialist – Resource Management, of Climate Action NGO, WRAP said: "It's great to hear of further moves by Tesco, a founding member of The UK Plastics Pact, to make positive changes to their products and make it easier for consumers to tackle plastic waste.

"Now more citizens can enjoy their morning cup of tea safe in the knowledge that once the bag is in their food waste caddy it will breakdown with the other organic material. However, we must continue to go further, and ensure we bring in more changes that benefit shoppers and the environment".