Which tea bags are plastic-free

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It is well known that plastic straws and to-go cups pollute the environment unnecessarily - but what is more surprising is that teabags are now also lined up among the rubbish offenders. But plastic-free alternatives can also be found here: the British tea giant PG is showing the way

Black, green or white? Herbs or fruits? When it comes to tea, tastes are divided. While some prefer to sip it with milk and sugar and others prefer to enjoy it neat, tea drinkers should at least agree on one thing: they can do without plastic in their hot drink.

Tea bags are not always plastic-free

In fact, many tea bags contain a heat-resistant plastic called polypropylene. To prevent the bags from dissolving, they are often welded into their shape. This work step is not possible with the pure paper, which mostly consists of the fibers of the abacá banana plant, which is why many manufacturers also use plastic in their tea bags. A "widespread practice in the industry," as Teadirect sustainability manager Whitney Kakos told the Guardian.

The proportion of plastic is usually relatively small - for well-known British tea brands such as Tetley and Twinnings, for example, it is between 20 and 30 percent. But with the 213 liters of tea that the average Brit drinks per year, the amount of plastic waste that is created by the bags quickly adds up.

Great Britain in the fight against plastic

Tea is just as indispensable in Great Britain as the Queen or the red telephone boxes. But after microplastics have already been banned from cosmetics and disposable plastics from the royal estates, "tea time" is now also to become more environmentally friendly.

The largest British tea supplier "PG tips" wants to convert its own range to 100 percent biodegradable tea bags by the end of the year and the retailer Co-Op is following suit: Environmentally friendly tea bags are being developed for their own Fairtrade tea brand and will be available in the near future should come to the market. Together, the two companies sell over nine trillion tea bags a year - so it's good to know that these will soon be plastic-free and completely compostable.

Guaranteed plastic-free alternatives in Germany

But what about in Germany? Statistically speaking, we don't even drink half as much tea as the average Briton, but the warming drink is also popular in this country. The good news: if you pay attention to a few things in front of the tea shelf, you can continue to enjoy your hot cup with a clear conscience.

Caution is advised with cordless tea bag pillows with a round or square shape. These are often heat sealed and contain synthetic fibers.

On the other hand, you are on the safe, plastic-free side with loose tea leaves. These can be portioned appropriately and, for example, poured into a reusable sieve insert - this often even saves costs.

The tea bags are of course still practical - and not all of them contain plastic. Pukka, Lebensbaum, Messmer and Teekampagne, for example, offer completely degradable bags. With Cupper they are also unbleached. The well-known supplier Teekanne did not comment on the material of their tea bags when asked. However, the following statement can be found on the Teekanne website: “Most of our tea bags are 100 percent compostable.” If you are not sure about your favorite tea brand, it is worth asking. This draws attention to the topic of sustainability and maybe even more companies can be persuaded to switch.

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In an earlier version of the article, we reported that Messmer did not respond to our request. This has now happened and this information has been added.