Is there plastic in my teabags?

Do you take plastic with your tea?

There’s nothing quite so comfortably reassuring as a steaming cup of tea.  And forty-two percent of Australians would seem to agree – we’ve become a tea loving nation!  While most of us take a hot cuppa for granted, just what type of an environmental impact does our regular brew have?

The humble tea bag was invented completely by accident more than 100 years ago by an American tea merchant who decided to send samples of tea to customers in small silk pouches.  Confused and assuming the bags were supposed to be dunked in hot water, it was rather serendipitously that the tea bag was born.  As tea entered the era of mass production, the cheaper paper versions that we see on supermarket shelves today became the norm.

It might surprise many of you to know the majority of global tea bags paper contains a small amount of food-grade (PET) (polyethylene terephthalate), a vital ingredient in providing strength to the teabag, amongst other things. PET is needed to heat seal the bag to ensure the tea in the bag remains entrapped during the brewing process (nobody likes a tea bag blow out mid-dunk!).  The use of PET is considered safe firstly because the PET used is a food grade polymer and because of its high melting point, significantly higher than the boiling point of water, which reduces the possibility of leaching. In fact, even boiling a teabag for many an hour will not induce the PET to leach.

The tea bag paper used by us here at Madura Tea is oxygen bleached, a process considered not only to have greater health benefits – chlorine and chlorine derivatives are far more toxic – but is also more environmentally sound (as the materials are not released into the environment after use, they can be re-introduced to the bleaching process).  Just as importantly, this process doesn’t affect the flavour of our teas.  On top of this, our silk infuser pyramid bags are 100 percent biodegradable under typical garden composting conditions and generated only with eco-friendly technology.

We do not use glues, making our tea bags safe for you, and safe for the environment (and for the garden compost, for those seeking a better environmental option!).

But we still think we can do better.  We’re continuing to pave the way forward in researching and trialling filter paper made purely from natural products. As the opportunity arises and when it is viable to do so Madura will continue to invest in new delivery systems to further reduce our impact on the planet, all the while maintaining the quality our consumers know and expect from the Madura Tea range.

At Madura Tea, we have a reputation for producing pure tasting, quality tea.  With this commitment in mind our packaging uses a metallised film consisting of PET and Bi-Orientated Polypropylene (BOPP), which acts as an oxygen barrier while limiting light, moisture, and risk of tampering.  This ensures our product is delivered as fresh to the consumer as the day it was packed at our Estate.  Check with your local council recycling website as these materials are recyclable and can simply be placed in your kerbside recycling bin.

With a forward-thinking approach to environmental management, Madura Tea is fuelled by a desire to nurture the farmland that sustains our tea plantation and to achieve environmental sustainability.  For example, on those occasions when water is required to irrigate our plantation it is drawn from the Estate’s storage dams. Our factory operation is powered by more than 400 solar panels, and tea waste is collected and used as mulch on our plantation.  Our tea is picked and packed onsite to further reduce its travel miles and thus our carbon footprint.

And Madura Tea has many industry awards to back this up.  We previously have won the Australian National Packaging Covenant award for sustainable approaches to packaging and waste minimization.  And our current Environment Management Plan maps out how we continue to improve on environmental policies and practices into the future.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy your brew.  In the meantime, Madura Tea will continue to strive to ensure we’re doing whatever possible to reduce waste while protecting the integrity, quality, and taste of our pure Madura Tea range.

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