Nations, communities, businesses and individuals are, hopefully, in the process of a radical, wholly significant change. Now more than ever, we need to work together and make a difference. The climate and environment won’t wait any longer. And that’s why we’re making a start with our petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags, which are also biodegradable.

Without nature, without Tea Plant and Coffee bushes, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company wouldn’t exist. We understand the importance of protecting our planet, and as such, have started our journey to become carbon neutral.

Right now, however, our focus is on curbing our plastic use, mostly by making the switch from plastic Tea Bags to more eco-friendly bioplastic equivalents. 

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In this article, we will explore the following: 

  • What are petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags?
  • Why are they important? 
  • What difference will it make? 
  • What other efforts are we making to help the environment? 

If you’re ready to discover more, keep reading and find out how and why we’re doing what we’re doing. Realise the full potential of petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags and what they can do to support a sustainable future.

Best of all, you can bolster efforts, too, by buying from The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.

Questions About Plastic in Tea Bags

Frequently Asked Questions About Plastic in Tea Bags

Question: What are Plastic Free Tea Bags? 

Answer: Until recently, the Tea industry has, for the most, used Tea Bags that contain a relatively small but nevertheless significant percentage of petrochemical plastic. Petrochemicals are, in essence, chemical products obtained from petroleum by refining. 

Although some might come from other fossil fuels, most, if not all, are bad for the environment. It’s no surprise, then, that plant-based alternatives are a vast improvement. This means that the material in use is either biobased, biodegradable, or features both properties - as is the case with us. 

The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company has proudly introduced heat-sealable, petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags made from wood pulp and vegetable starch. Although technically classified as a “bio-plastic” (more on this later), it’s much better than Plastic Tea Bags made from petrochemicals. 

Question: Are Tea Bags Biodegradable?

Answer: While going plastic-free is undoubtedly important, it’s equally vital to ensure that any product, no matter what it’s made of, is safely and efficiently disposable.

So are Tea Bags biodegradable? When you buy from us, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Indeed, our newly introduced petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags are 100% biodegradable.

Now, you can rest assured knowing that once you’ve finished with your cuppa, the leftovers will be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms. This keeps harmful petrochemical-based plastics out of the ecosystem, thus avoiding pollution. 

Question: Can I Compost my Tea Bags?

Answer: It’s been a question asked for decades: Where do I put the Tea Bag once I’ve used it? The bin, the food waste, the compost heap or other recycling? Unfortunately, up until recently, the correct answer has been the landfill. Times, however, are changing. 

So can Tea Bags be composted? Again, when you buy from us, absolutely. By choosing petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags, you’re opting for the cleanest and safest method of brewing a cuppa - in more than one way.

From now on, our products will be compostable to EN-13432 standard (EU standard for industrially compostable materials). Great news, huh? 

What about home composting? Petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags will disintegrate in home compost, and the residual bioplastic will biodegrade in time. It’s worth noting, though, that they’re not currently CERTIFIED home compostable. We hope this will take place soon. 

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Question: Do Tea Bags Contain Plastic? 

Answer: People have used Tea Bags since at least 1908. And for much of their history, they’ve contained plastic. But which Tea Bags contain plastic today?

It could be argued that pretty much all of them do. However, we use bio-plastic, which is 100% biodegradable and made from only plant-based materials. Is it perfect? Not quite. But it’s unquestionably progress in the world of Tea. 

Still, that doesn’t explain why bags contain plastic, no matter what kind, in the first place. The reason for this is because it enables them to be heat-sealed.

Without such a method, most bags would fall apart upon brewing. Yet by using bio-plastic, we can not only ensure the efficiency of your morning brew, but also support the protection of our environment. 

Question: What are Microplastics in Tea Bags?

Answer: The term “microplastics” is one often associated with the ocean. However, these small (less than 5mm in length) pieces of plastic debris can end up in your Tea, too. This is most commonly the case with petrochemical-based plastics, which is yet another reason to make the switch.

According to researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, some types of Tea Bag shed exceptionally high levels of microplastics into water. Indeed, there is a chance of your beverage containing 11.6 billion Plastic Tea Bags microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics. 

While The World Health Organisation (WHO) notes that microplastics don’t appear to pose a risk to humans, it recognises that studies are inconclusive. Perhaps most pressing is the fact that such materials end up polluting the environment.

Either way, choosing petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags is one way of trying to avoid such potentially devastating circumstances.

Question: Will Plastic Free Tea Bags Affect my Brew? 

Answer: On the contrary, every sip will taste all the better knowing that you’re doing ‘your bit’ for the planet. What’s more, the paper used has been specifically designed to deliver a strong cuppa every time, with no effect on profile or character. 

The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company stock a variety of sustainable Tea Bag products well-suited to a multitude of personal preferences. From Black Tea to Green Tea; Peppermint Tea to Camomile, Jasmine and Rooibos, the possibilities seem almost endless. 

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Question: What Accreditation does the Tea Bag Paper have? 

Answer: Our petrochemical plastic free Tea Bags are certified compostable to EN-13432 standard (but, as mentioned already, not certified home-compostable). This means they conform to European, as well as the United States, food contact legislation.

Furthermore, our Tea Bags adhere to ISO 9001/2015 Kosher and Halal certification. In other words, those following such religious practices have nothing to worry about when it comes to brewing up their favourite beverage. 

Efforts We are Making to Become Carbon Neutral

Efforts We are Making to Become Carbon Neutral

We don’t pretend to be perfect (although we like to think we’re at least transparent!). Still, unlike some companies, we want to try our hardest to build a sustainable brand and, indeed, a sustainable future. As such, avoiding harmful plastics isn’t the only way we’re trying to make a difference. 

Another initiative we’re taking part in is to plant a tree for every online order placed. Teaming up with Tree-Nation, an organisation that gathers and coordinates reforestation efforts worldwide, we’re now able to offset CO2 with your help. 

So why not start your fight against plastic pollution while planting more trees here? Browse our vast selection of Tea and Coffee and find the one for you.

We pack almost all of our products fresh to order, ensuring not only quality but also consistency. 

Author: Richard Smith

Partner at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company

Richard Smith is a Tea expert, entrepreneur, and owner of The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. Part of a family of renowned Tea planters dating back four generations, he was born in Calcutta (Kolkata), India, where he spent his childhood between Tea Estates in Assam and Darjeeling.

In the late 1970s, having accumulated years of knowledge in the industry, Mr Smith and his mother, Janet Smith, moved to Kent, South East England, to establish a Tea business in the village of Pluckley. Their early days of packing Tea Bags by hand from chests of 10,000 prompted the creation of the company’s flagship infusion known as Pluckley Tea. It remains our most popular product today.

Mr Smith, who studied economics at London Polytechnic, has since specialised in over 1,000 types of Loose Leaf Tea - in addition to around 70 varieties of Roast Coffee - from around the world. These are now available at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, where everything is still packed by hand and fresh to order, not only to honour tradition but to ensure the utmost quality and consistency.