PG Tips to remove plastic from its teabags in the UK after online petition

PG tips is making the switch to plant-based, biodegradable teabags in a bid to cut down plastic pollution caused by UK tea drinkers.

PG Tips to remove plastic from its teabags in the UK after online petition

The Unilever-owned company will start selling new eco-friendly pyramid tea bags from next week, 100% renewable and free of synthetic materials. PG tips has also pledged to make all of its teabags from biodegradable material by the end of the year.

The main culprit for traditional teabags is polypropylene, which is used as a sealant to stop tea bags from losing their shape. At the tail end of last year, a petition attracted 3,000 signatures calling for mainstream tea companies to stop using the plastic in their products. PG tips said at the time it was looking into alternatives, which it will now begin to roll out.

“Tea is the most consumed beverage in the UK, with nine billion PG tips tea bags sold every year,” said Noel Clarke, who has the rather excellent job title of vice president of refreshment at Unilever. “Our latest move maintains the same great taste of our tea whilst minimising our environmental impact.”

An estimated 165 million tea bags are used each day in the UK, and many of these will be used as food compost. Co-op has also recently unveiled plans to shift by the end of the year towards biodegradable tea bags for its own-brand Fairtrade 99 tea.  

Outside of the world of teabags, there are increasing measures to cut down on plastic waste. Last year, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans to install a network of new water fountains across the capital to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles. High street coffee chain Pret A Manger is also making moves to ditch plastic, installing water taps in several of its outlets and selling glass bottles.

Over in the Netherlands, a shop in Amsterdam has opened Europe’s first plastic-free aisle. The Ekoplaza supermarket will stock 700 plastic-free products, with plans to roll our similar aisles across its 74 other branches by the end of the year. It’s been described by the group behind the campaign, A Plastic Planet, as “a landmark moment for the global fight against plastic pollution”.

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