Put the kettle on

* 3 min read
There has been a real emphasis on coffee in recent years, with the rise of chain stores such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee helping to drive the sales of the drink to an all-time high. We drink over 10,000 cups of the stuff every 2 minutes here in the UK but, it’s not just coffee that us Brits love… we can’t forget tea, and it’s not just because of its great taste.

More and more we are seeing betterment trends make their way into our lives, and tea has a range of health benefits that it offers to its consumers, such as:

  • Antioxidants
  • Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Weight loss
  • Bone protection
  • Lower blood pressure

And It’s not only traditional tea that people are turning to, new health teas such as Kombucha; a refreshing beverage produced by fermenting tea, using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, is hotting up on the health agenda. Kombucha has a variety of health benefits such as improved digestion, immune system stimulation, arthritis prevention and cholesterol reduction along with a raft of others, and is famously known as the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ in ancient Chinese literature.

Flavoured teas are also making their mark with young adults. According to Mintel, more than a third of people aged 25 to 34 have drunk five or six different types of tea at home or at work - compared to just three per cent of people aged over 55.

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Overall, we consume 60.2 billion cups of tea each year, according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, now that’s a lot of tea! 96% of us also prefer to use tea bags rather than tea leaves. So, as we move to become more eco-conscious, it may be surprising to discover that some tea bags contain plastic.

So why is there a need for plastic in teabags? Well, plastic, or polypropylene if you want to be exact, is added to the paper teabag to help seal them during the manufacturing process so they don’t come open in the their packaging, or in your cup. It also means that these tea bags aren’t 100% biodegradable, so those tea bags you are composting are leaving bits of microplastic in the soil.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, more and more tea brands are recognising a need for change. The UK’s biggest tea brand, PG Tips, is switching to a fully biodegradable tea bag which is made from a plant-based material that is 100% renewable and biodegradable, and are already on sale in UK supermarkets. Clipper, the Fairtrade tea brand has also followed suit and ditched synthetic sealants in its teabags.

The UK government too, recently set aside £60m to tackle the amount of waste plastic. The fund is to be split into three areas that focus on ocean pollution, research and waste management.

We as a nation must pull together to rethink plastic. Our resident packaging expert, Gillian Garside-Wight comments:

Plastic has a purpose. It is not the enemy. But the way we spec it, use it and dispose of it often is. Without plastic we would not be able to preserve our food products or distribute them efficiently. However, we have become a throwaway society with consequences plain to see.”

Gillian Garside-Wight - Packaging Technology Director

It is certainly refreshing to see so many brands start to take this seriously, we have tirelessly pushed to raise this issue on plastics and we will continue to drive and support change now and in the future.