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It’s the great British teabag debate – how do you dispose of yours?


A new survey by Tesco has revealed that shoppers are split on what to do with their used tea bags with millions being disposed of incorrectly.   

With some tea bags being compostable and others not, shoppers are confused about which bin to put them in.  

Nearly half the people polled in the survey (43 per cent) say they put used tea bags in with their general waste.    

A further six per cent put them in their recycling bins; while 24 per cent put them in a food waste caddy and 12 per cent put them in the home compost.  

Tea bags are frequently discarded in the wrong way, with only 30 per cent of adults knowing that they contain plastic. 

The YouGov survey*, commissioned by Tesco, was taken ahead of the supermarket beginning the move to make all its tea bags compostable via food caddies.       

The move means that all tea bags sold by Tesco will be compostable by the summer – more than one billion bags a year.   

For decades, tea bag manufacturers have used a plastic, called polypropylene, to heat seal the bags in order to prevent the contents spilling out in the box or once hot water has been poured over them.     

But now Tesco is to introduce plant-based tea bags which will allow shoppers to compost their tea bags through kerbside food waste collections.         

And to overcome any further recycling confusion, Tesco’s newly designed packets of tea will be clearly labelled with information on the correct way to compost the tea bags in the food waste caddy.    

The new labelling will state: “We now make our tea bags out of plant-based material. Once used put your tea bag into your food waste bin. Our tea bags biodegrade into compost.”        

Tesco Packaging Manager Adele Kearns said: “This is a huge move that will help clear up the confusion for millions of people on how to dispose of their tea bags once used.  

“We hope that making all of our tea bags compostable with clear labelling helps our customers correctly do their bit for the environment.”      

The first stage of the massive programme when all the supermarket’s herbal and speciality tea lines will switch to the new plant-based, compostable tea bag format, is already underway.      

By April 2023 the rest of Tesco’s own label tea bags will have been replaced with a compostable plant-based material and by the summer, all of the billion tea bags sold by Tesco – own-brand and branded – will be compostable through council food waste collections.   

Adam Herriott, Sector Specialist – Resource Management, of Climate Action NGO, WRAP said: 

“It’s great to hear of further moves by Tesco, a founding member of The UK Plastics Pact, to make positive changes to their products and make it easier for consumers to tackle plastic waste.  

“Now more citizens can enjoy their morning cup of tea safe in the knowledge that once the bag is in their food waste caddy it will breakdown with the other organic material. However, we must continue to go further, and ensure we bring in more changes that benefit shoppers and the environment”.  

The own-brand move includes some of the supermarket’s most popular tea lines including: Tesco 240 Teabags; Tesco Extra Strong Tea 80 Bags; Tesco Finest Earl Grey 100 Tea Bags; Tesco Peppermint 40 Tea Bags and Tesco Finest English Breakfast 100 Tea Bags.       


Note to editors: 


*The survey was commissioned by Tesco and conducted by YouGov from a sample of 2000 UK adult customers.       

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