Tetley Factory
Product and Packaging

At Tetley, we’re committed to doing everything possible to help the environment and one of the ways is to reduce the amount of plastic we use...

Tea Bags

Being able to produce tea bags, which are compostable through food waste bins, is a big part of our commitment to reduce the amount of plastic we use.

The vast majority of our tea bags are made from natural plant fibres, with a thin inner layer of a plastic material called PP, which enables their edges to be heat sealed and stops them falling apart in hot water - which we know is key in delivering a great cuppa.

If you include the tea, typically about 1% of a teabag’s total weight, is plastic (around 0.04g) - 95% is tea and the rest is natural plant fibres, which are biodegradable. Although this is a small amount our goal is to remove it completely and produce tea bags made from PLA tissue. PLA is a bioplastic derived from renewable plant sources, which is fully compostable via food waste collection bins.

What have we been doing?

To make this happen we’ve been working with the world’s top tissue suppliers to find an alternative tissue that will work in our special high-speed, high-volume machines.

We make 280 million tea bags a week in our factory in Stockton-on-Tees, for the UK and abroad, that’s 8.8 billion a year, so we have to make sure we get it right. We want to make sure that any tea bags made from a new tissue are of the standard and quality that you (and we) expect.

Our recent trials have been encouraging and we have already produced 3 million tea bags with a new biodegradable tissue into the market with positive results. The good news is we’ve had no reports of bags splitting, which we know has been a problem with moving to this type of tissue. So we are hopeful that we can now work to scale up our tests, so you should start to see more biodegradable bags on shelves soon.

We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, the advice from the UK Tea & Herbals association is if you would like to put tea on your garden compost, it's recommended that you speed up the process by ripping open the bags before placing the used tea leaves on your compost heap and disposing of the teabag paper separately in your bin.

You can find out more about this below...

Watch the video

The UK Plastics Pact

In 2018, Tetley signed up to the UK Plastics Pact, an initiative led and managed by sustainability experts WRAP.

Within the initiative many different types of organisations that are involved with plastic in some way are working together. The aim is to work towards a system that will keep plastics in a circular system meaning that they get used again and again and stay out of the environment. To achieve this single-use packaging needs to be eliminated through design and innovation.

The target by 2025 is for 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable; for 70% of plastic packaging to be effectively recycled or composted; and for all plastics packaging to have an average of 30% of recycled content.

The UK Plastics Pact recently included tea bags in its list of single use plastic items, this brings it in line with our own standards which we are working to apply to all our products globally, not just the UK.

You can find out more about the UK Plastic's Pact below...

Read More

Plastics Pact

Our Packaging...

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Tetley Softpack

Our Tetley Original and Decaf products come in a special softpack packaging. Although this is predominantly paper, it has a thin layer of plastic lamination so is not currently recyclable.

For now, it’s useful to know that Softpack produces around 30% less waste compared to a normal carton. Less material is used as the square base of the packs means that they can be stacked on top of each other and support themselves. Being able to double stack these on pallets for transportation also means that fewer vehicles are needed to move product around, which reduces its carbon footprint.

Whilst this packaging has many different benefits which minimise its environmental impact, we are committed to sourcing a recyclable alternative.

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Tetley Cartons

Our cartons are all made from paperboard which means that they are all 100% recyclable. So when your done enjoying the tea simply pop them into your household paper recycling.

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Tetley Envelopes, Inner Pouches & Overwraps

We use individual envelopes, pouches and overwraps on some of our products to protect the flavour and freshness. We have recently changed the material to make it more recyclable, however this cannot be recycled via your regular household collections yet.

We are in discussions with our retailer partners who are exploring front of store recycling facilities to be able collect this material and our committed to working towards widely recycled solutions.

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Tetley Bottles

Reusable water bottles are better for the environment and that’s why the Tetley Cold Infusions on the go bottle has been designed to be reusable in order to minimise single use plastics. To keep the bottle in shape always wash by hand. Should you ever need to (but we hope that you don’t) the bottle is also 100% recyclable.

We have also ensured that our Super Squash bottles and lids are 100% recyclable – just remember to leave the cap on when popping in your recycling bin.

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Tetley Cups

If you are out and about for work or leisure and are able to get a cup of Tetley on the go, we are pleased to say that these are now fully recyclable if they go to specialist recycling centres or coffee shops.

For Tetley Fresh Seal On the Go which you might have had on a plane before, we have removed the fresh foil lid and replaced with a cardboard alternative and completely removed the plastic widget. This simple change has removed 19 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic from the range, equivalent to more than a double decker bus.

We have also replaced the plastic sip lids of our Tetley On The Go solution which is popular with cafes and catering outlets. More than 900,000 of these are sold each year so replacing the lid with an alternative recyclable plastic lid has reduced CO2 potential by 19%, that’s the equivalent of a family car cutting 4,500 car miles a year.

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Tetley Large Packs

Our biggest packs need to be strong and sturdy so are currently made from Polypropylene & Polyethylene, which whilst technically recyclable, is currently not widely collected in UK for recycling. Retail companies are working for better collection of PP based films so it can get recycled, but we are also working on alternative solutions as well - so watch this space.