Sustainable Energy

Unilever's PG tips is switching to plant-based, biodegradable tea bags

Key Points
  • PG tips aiming for all tea bags to be made from plant-based material by the end of 2018.
  • The impact will be significant, with 10 billion PG tips tea bags made each year.
Claire Cordier | Dorling Kindersley | Getty Images

PG tips, one of the U.K.'s most iconic tea brands, is switching to 100 percent biodegradable tea bags.

The first batch of the new bags, made from a material that is both 100 percent plant-based and renewable, will go on sale from next week, Unilever said Wednesday.

PG tips is aiming for all its tea bags to be manufactured from plant-based material by the end of 2018.

The impact of the switch will be significant, with Unilever's Noel Clarke stating that 10 billion PG Tips tea bags are made each year. At the moment, PG tips "pyramid" tea bags are mostly made from paper, with some polypropylene used to seal the bag.

"The new 100 percent plant-based material we're moving to is an innovation based on cutting-edge science and technology," Clarke said.

Unilever's attempt to mitigate the environmental impact of its tea bags comes in the same week that Starbucks announced it was introducing a five pence (seven cents) paper cup charge in 35 of its stores across London, with proceeds from the levy to be donated to environmental charity Hubbub.

Earlier this year, bottled water brand Evian announced that it would produce all its plastic bottles from 100 percent recycled plastic by 2025.