Here in the UK, we do love a good cup of tea – in fact, I’m having one right now while writing this article. We love tea so much, that it is estimated that as a country, 66% of the population drinks tea – which adds up to 165 million cups every day. That is a lot of teabags. Currently, a large percentage of teabags go into landfills, but now manufacturing giant Unilever (who owns PG Tips) has teamed up with two local councils and Wrap, the government’s advisory body on waste, to create a new teabag recycling scheme.
Photo by weegeebored
PG Tips is the largest tea buyer in the world – it picks up 12% of the world’s black tea supply. Since most of its product is sold in the UK, it makes sense to implement such a recycling project. Along with two Essex councils, Brentwood and Chelmsford, the tea brand is aiming to promote wider use of the councils’ food waste recycling services while encouraging households to recycle their used teabags when appropriate.
Headed by PG Tip’s Monkey mascot, the campaign will mark the first time that any party has worked specifically to promote tea bag recycling. It is all part of Unilever’s wider ‘Sustainable Living Plan’, which includes a commitment to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by 50% over the next eight years.
According to Wrap, tea is “the largest element of unavoidable food waste produced in the UK, above items such as fruit peel and onion skins, accounting for around 370,000 tonnes of waste every year”. Although some teabags contain polypropylene, a heat-resistant sealant that is not fully bio-degradable, Wrap has advised Britons to recycle any and all teabags to reduce the large quantity that are sent to landfill every day. They can simply be added to the food waste collections that occur weekly.
Paul Sherratt, the global packaging and sustainability director at Unilever said: “To achieve our ambitious targets, we need to collaborate with organisations such as Wrap and forward-thinking councils such as Chelmsford and Brentwood in order to encourage consumers to recycle wherever they can. Only through such partnerships can we really begin to tackle such challenges.”
He added: “Unilever’s teabags are mainly made from organic material so we believe that putting them in with the rest of the household food waste will be a small habit change that everyone can adopt.”
Right, I better go put my teabags out in the recycling bin then… after I make another cuppa.
Via The Guardian