Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Environment

This Tea Bag Is Totally Plastic-Free — and Made From Bananas

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Plastic pollution has become a huge issue in terms of the damage that it’s causing to the natural world. The UN’s Global Goals call for action in protecting life on land and life below water, as well as action to drive responsible consumption and production. Join us by taking action here to combat plastic waste.

One of Britain’s biggest tea brands has gone completely plastic-free — and their new tea bags are made from bananas.

What’s more, Clipper Tea has said it’s the “world’s first plastic-free, unbleached, non-GM [genetically modified] tea bag paper.” While other brands — like PG Tips — have produced their first fully biodegradable bags this year, they're still bleached to make them look brighter.

Take Action: Commit to Reduce Your Plastic Waste and #UnplasticThePlanet

Despite recent progress, most tea bags still contain a plastic called polypropylene, a sealant that helps them keep their shape and stops them falling apart in your mug. 

Clipper will now replace that with a mixture of abaca — made from a species of banana plant — plant cellulose fibres, and PLA, a biopolymer made from non-GM plant material, according to the Independent.

The new bags will also be completely compostable and biodegradable. Food waste bins, assemble!

In its Dorset factory, Clipper moved its entire production line to be totally rid of plastic on Oct. 20. However, the company has clarified that it might take several months before its current stock sells out — so it might take a little bit longer to hit your shelves.

But while Clipper is the first British brand to go completely plastic-free, the rest of the industry is not far behind. PG Tips launched a fully biodegradable tea bag in February — with a commitment to make all its teabags follow suit by the end of this year. Similarly, both the Co-Op and Yorkshire Tea are developing their own plastic-free ranges.

Every single day, Britons will drink about 165 million cups of tea — over 60 billion a year. In case you were wondering, 98% of these are drunk with milk, but only 30% are taken with sugar. 

But what’s important is that the British are serious about their sacred cuppa; yet might be unaware about how it contributes to plastic pollution around the world. 

Read More: Plastic Straws and Cotton Buds Could Be Banned in Britain by Next Year

Indeed, a 2010 “Which? Gardening” report found that only 70-80% of tea bags from leading manufactures are biodegradable.

Globally, it’s estimated that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans already, with an additional 2 billion tonnes of plastic in the world by 2050 — the equivalent weight of a car for every single human being on the planet.