NO. After the media revelation earlier in the year that many teabags contain plastic, we’ve had a number of people ask us if Canton pyramid teabags contain plastic.
If, like us, you’re on a mission to reduce single-use plastic, you’ll be pleased to know our pyramid teabags are (and have always been) proudly plastic free. As Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, told HuffPost UK:
“There is no reason why enjoying a cuppa should mean adding to our plastic waste problem."
What are they made of then?
We use a material from Japan called Soilon made from cornstarch, a plant material which is a renewable resource which is heat sealed rather than glued. This biomass material is a polylactic acid and is certified commercially biodegradable, so can be put in your food waste collection bin, although not in a domestic compost heap. It breaks down harmlessly into water and CO2.
After a lot of research and working with the Sustainable Restaurant Association, of which we are long-term members and supporters, this is currently the most environmental option available for teabags. Surprisingly, ‘paper-feel’ teabags generally contain plastic (otherwise they would disintegrate in hot water). NB Not all pyramid bags are cornstarch like ours - some pyramids are made from nylon ie plastic.
The SRA comments:
“Plastic plays a crucial role in the day to day operation of most food service businesses. Right now the sector is facing an unprecedented level of awareness and pressure over its environmental impact. Call it the Attenborough effect, or just a long time coming, but the tide is turning and the public is demanding change when it comes to single-use plastic. Tackling plastic use in your business can be a confusing and frustrating task. With so many types of plastic to cope with, and an ever-increasing number of confusing ‘environmentally friendly’ alternatives coming to market, knowing how and where to start, and what answers are the best answers, is easier said than done.”
What about the outer packaging?Our new individually wrapped teabag range come in dual purpose cardboard boxes, so they are fully recyclable and double as a great counter top display. We are also introducing bulk refill packs later in the year, so the cardboard boxes can be reused multiple times. The wrap for the pyramids is now made from a recyclable paper with a very fine film of plastic. However, the manufacturers of this innovative material are close to having a fully biodegradable material with all the barrier properties we need. As soon as it is available we will switch.
We’re working very hard to find a plastic free option for the outer bag we use for our naked pyramid teabags and outer teabags, and earlier this year introduced a new bag lined with 30% less plastic than before. However, right now we do not believe there is a suitable option available for tea which is 100% plastic free. Tea has a long shelf life, and so the packaging must have the high barrier protection to retain the quality and freshness of the tea inside, by keeping it in the dark and airtight.
We are always looking at ways to reduce waste and are pushing the industry towards developing better reusable, recyclable and biodegradable materials. In the meantime, we have streamlined our range so each bag of tea is now only available in one, larger pack size.