Today, Sainsbury’s is announcing the mass roll out of its first plant-based own brand tea bag from June 2021. The innovative move comes as part of Sainsbury’s ongoing commitment to halve plastic packaging by 2025 and the company’s pledge to become Net Zero in its own operations by 2040.
Sainsbury’s current own brand teabags are made up of 75% natural fibres and 25% oil-based plastic sealing material (polypropylene). This sealing material is important to ensure the teabag remains intact and that tea leaves don’t seep into the cup.
However, Sainsbury’s has already begun moving away from oil-based plastic and is instead trialling a more sustainable plant-based plastic called Polylactic acid (PLA), made from the sugars in cornstarch, cassava or sugarcane.
PLA teabags are made from renewable plant-based material and are industrially compostable, unlike the current oil-based plastic teabags.
Sainsbury’s will move over 815 million individual teabags a year from using oil-based plastic to plant-based plastic. The retailer has found the popularity of tea has been increasing this year with sales of tea rising by 6% year on year.
To make the teabags even more environmentally friendly, Sainsbury’s will also be removing the outer plastic wrapping from 11 products. By eliminating this plastic film wrap from the box, the company will remove over 5.3 million pieces of plastic a year, which equates to 16.2 tonnes of plastic.
Claire Hughes, Director of Product, Packaging and Innovation at Sainsbury’s said: “This extensive rollout of our new tea bags, is another example of how we are looking to implement new innovative products that will reduce the impact our business has on the environment. Our move towards plant-based teabags has required significant time and multiple trials to ensure that our customers receive the same great quality teabag and we look forward to the roll out in stores this year.”
The new PLA based teabags are best disposed of in kerbside food or garden waste bins but if this is not accessible then they can be disposed of in the general household waste bin.