We’ve written quite frequently about our biodegradable tea bags on this blog. At almost every stage of their development, we shared our progress and some behind the scenes insight around the development of our CoopTea.
As we start the new year, we have a good prediction about how many cups of CoopTea are going to be brewed this year, and with that we can start to look at how much plastic waste has been avoided through the creation of the Soilon mesh tea bags.
Microplastics are scarcely talked about when it comes to tea bags, although increasingly people are becoming aware of the danger that they pose. Many teas now use silken bags instead of paper. When the bags are steeped in hot water, they release billions of microplastic particles into the mug, each one the size of a grain of pollen. One study showed that one cup from a single tea bag could contain 11.6 billion microplastic and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles.
Before we get into the calculations, perhaps you would like to read about our Soilon Mesh tea bags in more detail, or have a read of our other blogs which talk about the development process.
We’ve been blown away by the support received since the launch of CoopTea™. We have joined forces with The Food Hub in Belgium, a cooperative distributing the tea around north west Europe and serving it in their market stores. It is being distributed by Glasgow’s Green City Coop, and in all of the cafes our cooperative services here in England and Wales.
By August, we estimate that over 120,500 CoopTea bags will have been brewed and drunk across Great Britain and Europe. Not bad going for their first 9 months!
So how much plastic waste will this save?
A standard tea bag contains around 0.04g of plastic. This is usually used to heat seal the bag, but it’s also a cheaper material to produce with and is favoured by large companies due to the cost saving. By comparison, our tea bags contain exactly 0.00g of plastic.
If we multiply the predicted number of bags drunk (125,000) by the total amount of plastic in a standard bag (0.04g), we arrive at a total plastic saving of 4820g since August 2020.
This is a conservative estimate, as each box is entirely recyclable and wrapped in a biodegradable shrink wrap (compared to the normal plastic cellophane). With that factored in, it starts to look more like a saving of 10,000g since August
This year, we are renewing our commitment to environmental care and consideration. This analysis, which looks exclusively at our teabags, is being performed across the range of cooperative products we range, and is at the forefront of all product development work we do in the office (or at home, as the case may be!).
Our commitment to environmental responsibility is reflected in our decision to produce Soilon™ mesh tea bags. We realise the scarcity of resources and the physical limits of the planet we live on, and prioritise the triple line of ‘people and plant, then profit’. Our commitment to sustainability is highlighted through our deadline of being net carbon neutral by 2030.
Environmental protection also goes hand in hand with our commitment to the Fairtrade movement. To sell Fairtrade products, farmers have to improve soil and water quality, manage pests, avoid using harmful chemicals, manage waste, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity.