Awareness of the excessive presence of plastic in our everyday lives has never been so heightened. None more so than when it was revealed by several major tea brands that their teabags contained plastic despite generic advice that teabags are compostable.
Following these revelations, a number of large brands and supermarket chains have announced that they will be removing plastic from their teabags. They have stated that they will achieve this by switching to a material that is “made from corn starch and is fully biodegradable”.
The corn starch material they are referring to sounds very much like the Soilon material we have been using since our tea was first put into pyramid bags back in 2015.
This is a biodegradable material - meaning that it will break down in a realistic time-frame to a particle size small enough to not be considered harmful to the envrionment. They are also compostable under the right conditions.
Derived from corn starch, these bags are actually made up of PLA (polylactic acid) which is as important distinction to make because their breaking down is not a simple case of plant material breaking down. Moreover, there is a big difference between garden composting and industrial composting.
Indeed, our tea bags, and the other plastic-free ones proposed by larger companies, are better disposed of in food waste bins that will composted industrially rather than in your garden compost heap. In an industrial composter, with all the right microbes and conditions they will break down in months as opposed to nearer a year domestically - good news for tea drinkers and the environment alike.