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The Teabags Without Plastic in 2023

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Want to know which teabags without plastic exist in the UK in 2023? Look no further – I’ve rounded up the best eco-friendly and sustainable plastic-free tea bags out there right now. I’ve also shared the teabags with plastic, to help you avoid unexpected plastic in your beverages.

Back in 2017, I wrote about the surprising hidden plastic in teabags. Teabags that many of us were composting in our gardens or via our kerbside food waste pickup. That post had such an impact as many people learned for the first time that teabags contain plastic, alongside a host of other surprising items that contain plastic.

Since then, I’ve been keeping tabs to see where the tea industry is currently at in reducing plastic from the nation’s favourite drink.

As such, I’ve looked into over 20 teabag brands in the UK, to see what teabags without plastic are available. I’ve also looked into how best to dispose of the bags once you’re done.

Why Do Teabags Contain Plastic?

You might be wondering why there is a need for plastic to be found in teabags. Well, plastic (polypropylene to be exact) is added to the paper teabag to help heat seal them during manufacture. 

Heat sealing the bags like this means that the teabags won’t come open in the box, or in your cup. It also means that these tea bags aren’t 100% biodegradable. This is a problem in that those tea bags you are composting are leaving bits of microplastic in the soil.

What Is Microplastic?

Microplastic is a huge problem, that is still being understood by scientists today. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic, less than 5 mm long.

What we know is that microplastics are found in the soil, in the sea, in our drinking water, inside fish and other animals we eat, and even in humans. When microplastics are in the food we eat and the water we drink, this means we are ingesting plastic, and the long-term effects of this are currently unknown.

Microplastic comes from a variety of sources. It can derive from larger plastic debris that has degraded into smaller and smaller pieces. However, it also comes from teabags that have been heat-sealed with plastic, that we have unwittingly composted.

How much damage can a teabag do, you may be wondering? Well, one teabag alone will do very little damage. However, when you consider that in the UK alone we drink more than 60 billion cups of tea a year, then it’s a lot of teabags and a whole lot more microplastic.

The good news is that since 2017 tea manufacturers have started to remove polypropylene from their teabags.

Teabag Terminology

Before we dive in, let me get you up to speed on some of the terminologies around teabags.

Types of Teabags

First off, you’ll see some discussion around types of teabags. Here is a visual guide to the types of teabags referred to in this guide.

types of teabags

What About PLA Teabags?

In this guide to teabags without plastic, you’ll see a lot of discussion around PLA. PLA stands for Polylactic Acid. PLA teabags are technically not plastic-free, as they are made from plant-based plastics. It is often referred to as a bio-plastic. This simply means the plastic does not come from a fossil fuel-based source.

There are some issues around PLA. Firstly, sometimes the plant material used to produce PLA can be sourced from genetically modified (GM) crops.

Secondly, PLA tea bags are not home-compostable. It’s therefore important to dispose of them correctly. If your local council collects your food waste or garden waste bin for industrial composting, they will compost quickly. However, if your council does not collect your food waste, then these teabags perform no differently than conventional oil-based plastic tea bags.

If you don’t have access to council food waste collections, then to dispose of PLA teabags it is best to tear open the bag to allow you to compost the tea leaves in your garden. Then put the teabag in with your general waste.

If you want to know more, do read my guide on what is PLA and is it biodegradable for a more detailed deep dive.

I don’t think PLA is a perfect solution. Like many aspects of sustainability, there are always compromises. However, aside from switching to loose-leaf tea en masse, I don’t think there is a perfect solution that could also make tea an affordable daily staple.

The Plastic-Free Teabags in 2023

A black teapot and mug with a blue text box that says the teabags that are plastic free and those that contain plastic

Here is the current situation plastic-free tea bag situation right now in the UK (updated May 2023), with notes on how to dispose of each brand’s teabags, and if the brand offers loose-leaf tea.


Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Aldi’s teabags are now plastic-free. In June 2021, Aldi confirmed it was removing single-use plastic from its own-brand range of teabags. We’re pleased to see that this has now rolled out across the country. Now all of Aldi’s own brand tea – including decaffeinated, and fruit and herbal infusions are made from PLA – so are industrially compostable.


Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

In October 2022 Asda announced that all of its own brand teabags – including the Just Essentials and Extra Special ranges – will be made from industrially compostable PLA. The bags will be phased in over a six-month period, so do check that your box contains the new PLA teabags.

Asda says “Tea is a staple in most customer’s households so for us to make a change which can make such a difference is a big moment for us.”

Bird & Blend Tea

Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Brighton-based Bird & Blend sells its hand-blended teas in PLA teabags. Or if you want to avoid PLA you can shop for loose-leaf tea. Alongside its standard black teas, the main area where Bird & Blend excels is in its unique tea blends. Think Rhubarb & Custard, or Chocolate Digestive flavoured tea for something a little different.

Brew Tea

Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

As well as its tasty loose-leaf tea selection, Brew Tea swapped over to PLA teabags in September 2017. Brew Tea then moved over to plastic-free packaging in 2018. Black tea is Brew Tea’s speciality, but it does carry a small range of fruit and herbal teas.


Place in your food waste bin | String and tag teabags home compostable

Back in 2017 people were most shocked by the fact that Clipper’s unbleached organic teabags contained plastic. Thanks to consumer demand, Clipper took action, and switched its pillow teabags to a plant-based PLA several years ago, sourced from non-GM plant material.

Co-Op Own Brand 99

Place in your food waste bin

Thanks to consumer pressure, The Co-Op switched its own-brand Fairtrade 99 tea over to PLA teabags in 2018.


Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Edinburgh-based Eteaket mainly sells loose-leaf tea. This is packaged in home compostable Natureflex™ bags and cardboard caddies. Its tea is not the cheapest. However, if you already have a caddy, then their loose-leaf tea is also available in 100% plastic-free refill bags, which are a little cheaper.

Whilst its range of teabags is small, all Eteakat tea bags are made from PLA. These are packed into home compostable Natureflex™ bags, and recyclable cardboard cartons for a smaller carbon footprint.

Good & Proper

Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Good & Proper’s range of award-winning teas – from its black teas to its range of herbal infusions – come in PLA teabags. If you want to avoid PLA, you can also shop for a wide range of tasty loose-leaf teas.

Hampstead Tea

Home compostable or can go in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Hampstead Tea has a long history of sustainability. It was the first tea manufacturer to introduce stitched teabags rather than heat-sealed teabags. As such, its teabags have always been home-compostable.

Rather than resting on its laurels, Hampstead Tea has taken big steps when it comes to the environment. Consequently, the vast majority of its products are plastic-free (aside from its Earl Grey and Green Tea with Jasmine tea bag envelopes).

Neal’s Yard

Home compostable or can go in your food waste bin

Neal’s Yard 100% organic and eco-friendly tea bags are FairWild™ certified. This is an international standard that supports the sustainable use of wild-harvested ingredients. It also ensures a fair deal all along the supply chain.

Neal’s Yard PLA-free teabags are made from natural abaca (a plant from the banana family) and are oxygen-bleached. This method is chlorine-free and kind to the environment. As such these plastic-free teabags can go straight into your home composter.


Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Nemi is a specialist London-based tea company that offers a variety of tea blends, both as loose tea and teabags. As well as selling great-tasting tea, Nemi provides employment to refugees to give them local work experience and job readiness skills to enter the UK workforce and to help them integrate into broader society.

All of Nemi’s teabags are made from PLA. Moreover, its packaging is compostable, and its teas are organic, fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified. The packaging is pretty funky too.

PG Tips

Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Unilever-owned PG Tips made the switch to PLA a couple of years ago thanks to consumer pressure. Now its entire range can be industrially composted via your food waste bin.


Home compostable or can go in your food waste bin

Unilever-owned Pukka makes organic and fairly sourced herbal teas. Its string and tag teabags have always been plastic and PLA-free. However, each individual bag used to come wrapped in an unrecyclable plastic-lined envelope. The good news is that Pukka has taken its environmental responsibilities seriously, and now uses widely recyclable envelopes. 


Place in your food waste bin

Roqberry’s flavourful fruit and herbal infusions come in PLA plastic-based pyramids. From banana-flavoured tea to blueberry, these unique tea blends tread lightly on the planet.


Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

I added Sainsbury’s to this plastic-free teabag list in August 2021. After news that from summer 2021 Sainsbury’s own-brand teabags will be plastic-free, as part of its ongoing commitment to halve plastic packaging by 2025, this finally rolled out in-store in August 2021.

The new tea bags are made from PLA and are industrially compostable. What I also like is that the packaging is completely plastic-free too. The box isn’t wrapped in plastic, and nor is there a plastic foil bag inside the box. Accessible plastic-free tea for the win!

Suki Tea

Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Based in Belfast, Suki Tea ethically source and blend loose-leaf teas, herbal infusions and fruit blends from all over the world. Suki Tea is best known for its tasty loose-leaf tea, however, it does have a selection of PLA-based pyramid teabags.


Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Australian brand T2 reached the UK in 2014 and has quite a few High St stores dotted around the UK. I would say T2 is perhaps best known for its loose-leaf tea selection. However, its range of pyramid teabags is made from PLA for a more sustainable cup of tea.


Place in your food waste bin

Sustainable tea stalwarts Teapigs have always made teabags without fossil fuel-based plastic – its tasty tea pyramids have always been PLA-based. However, Teapigs didn’t stop there. A few years ago the brand also switched the plastic inner bag to a home compostable bag. Top plastic-free marks!

Recently a reader informed me that Teapigs is owned by Tata. This is a giant industrial conglomerate that owns many brands – including Starbucks – which is disappointing to hear.

Tick Tock Tea

Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Tick Tock’s range of naturally decaffeinated rooibos teas is available in both PLA teabags and in loose-leaf formats. Packaging-wise, the inner pouch of its Cold Brew Rooibos tea range can be composted via industrial composting facilities, and the pouches of all other Tick Tock teas are recyclable at large supermarkets.  

Twist Teas

Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Twist Tea’s range of fruit, herbal and black teas are available in loose-leaf and PLA pyramid teabag formats.

Yorkshire Tea

Place in your food waste bin | Loose leaf tea selection available

Yorkshire Tea – including regular Yorkshire Tea, Yorkshire Gold, Yorkshire Tea Decaf and Yorkshire Tea for Hard Water – have, since September 2021, been manufactured from PLA.

Yorkshire Tea also says “All our products are now carbon neutral, and what we want next is for all our packaging to be “circular” – which means made from renewable, plant-based or recycled materials, and reusable, recyclable or compostable after use“.

Which Teabags Do Contain Plastic?

A selection of teas.

As of May 2023, many teabags from big-name brands still contain plastic. These include the following brands.


Lidl’s pyramid teabags are made from PLA, making them industrially compostable. However, the rest of its teabags are sealed using polypropylene. I can’t find any details to say that they looking to switch to more sustainable options, which is a disappointing step by Lidl.

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer’s non-herbal range of tea bags still contains plastic.

In January 2021 Marks & Spencer told me over Twitter that “we changed our pyramid herbal teabags to a plant-based material at the end of 2019. These can be disposed of in food waste bins collected by local councils. We’re continuing to explore more sustainable options for our other tea bag ranges in the future”.

This non-committal action on plastic in the rest of their range of teabags is in contrast to an M&S press release issued in 2018. Here, Marks & Spencer said they were taking a “razor-sharp look at how we use plastics” and that “we’re taking plastics out of all 450 million teabags we sell“. It’s disappointing that four years later that ‘razor-sharp look‘ translates to a woolly ‘we’re continuing to explore… in the future‘.

As such, until their black tea is plastic-free I don’t class M&S as a plastic-free purveyor of tea.


I haven’t been able to find any information which suggests that Morrisons’ own-brand teabags are plastic-free. This means that for now, Morrisons is on the list of teabags that do contain plastic, until I hear otherwise.


Similar to Morrisons, there is no information to suggest that Tesco’s own-brand teabags are plastic-free. I will press Tesco for an update.


Tetley is currently in the process of switching from plastic heat-sealed teabags. The brand saysWith 9 million (teabags) to convert, we can’t change all of our bags at once, but we’re starting with our big sellers of lovely Tetley Original 120s and 240s“. 

Once all of Tetley’s teabags are plastic-free I’ll move them out of this category.


I’ve put Twinings in the plastic category, rather than the plastic-free category because I consider them a work in progress.

I tweeted Twinings to ask about the plastic in their tea in January 2021 and they told me “More than two-thirds of our products are loose-leaf or made using plant-based teabags & we’re working on switching the rest of our bags to a plant-based design. This will be completed in the next 6 months”.

Since then, Twinings has moved the goalposts. Twinings now saysBy 2025, we will ensure that, in all our markets, our consumer packaging is reusable or recyclable and our tea bags are compostable“.


It’s a bit of a mixed bag at Waitrose. So far it appears its own brand of caffeinated tea bags is made from PLA, so can be disposed of in your food waste bin. However, it appears its own brand decaf tea range is not currently plastic-free.

To Conclude The Plastic-Free Teabag Conversation

Many teabag manufacturers have made the switch to more planet-friendly teabags. However, it’s clear that some of the big players, like Twinings, Waitrose, M&S, Morrisons, and Lidl still have some way to go before all of the big teabag brands are plastic-free.

If your tea manufacturer of choice isn’t mentioned here, then do email or tweet them to ask about their teabags.

Phew, that was a long one! Time to put the kettle on for a plastic-free cuppa I think! If you’ve enjoyed this, then do also check out my guide to the best oat milk. I’ve looked into all sorts of ethics behind the most popular oat milk brands in the UK and uncovered all sorts of murky things.

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