Yorkshire Tea: Which tea bags that are now plant-based and how will they improve the environment?

Yorkshire Tea is now selling plant-based tea bags that will be easier to dispose of and be kinder to the environment.

A Yorkshire Tea van. (Pic credit: Gary Longbottom)

As part of a long-term plan to improve the environment, the Yorkshire Tea brand has revealed a list of tea bags which have gone plant-based to avoid the use of fossil fuel plastics.

Which Yorkshire Tea bags are now plant-based?

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

On September 14, Yorkshire Tea tweeted a list of its newly plant-based tea bags that are being sold across the UK:

Yorkshire Tea - all boxes

Yorkshire Gold - all boxes

Yorkshire Tea Decaf - all boxes

Yorkshire Tea for Hard Water - all boxes

While there are still some of Yorkshire Tea’s old tea bags on the shelves, the majority of them are manufactured with a plant-based plastic called polylactic acid or PLA, which has replaced the original oil-based plastic.

What is the purpose of this?

PLA is a newer form of plastic, made primarily of plants (eg. cornstarch) instead of fossil fuels, which means they can be industrially composted by local councils.

It is better for the environment than oil-based plastic - so long as it goes in the correct bin.

How to dispose of the plant-based tea bags

They can be discarded in kerbside garden waste or food waste bins, to then be taken off for industrial composting by your local council.

If you don’t have either of these bins, you can either put your used tea bag in your refuse bin, or you can cut open the used tea bag, compost the tea inside a container at home and dispose of the empty bag in your refuse bin.

Are the tea bags plastic-free?

PLA tea bags are still plastics. However, PLA is made from renewable materials instead of fossil fuels and it can be industrially disposed of instead of going to landfill or incineration, meaning it is much kinder to the environment.

If it is disposed of in the correct way, then over time, it will break down into its natural components.

Are they biodegradable?

As they break down into their natural components, they do fall under the term ‘biodegradable’, however, as nobody knows yet what the timescales are for PLA to biodegrade naturally, WRAP advises against using this term for the tea bags.

There is also concern that terms like ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable’ may increase littering.

You can find out more information about these environmentally-friendly tea bags on the Yorkshire Tea website.