By Denis Sheehan MIH, Publisher, H&C News: Call for a greenwashing ‘AmnesTea’ for big tea bag brands.
Environmental campaigners, City to Sea, have called on the big tea bag brands to take part in a greenwashing ‘AmnesTea’ and to stop using confusing terms like ‘compostable’ and ‘biodegradable’ unless their products meet the highest standards.
Currently, some tea bags can be made enmeshed with plastics like polypropylene fibres, but even tea bags claiming to be ‘plastic-free’ or even ‘compostable’ can often include bioplastics like polylactic acid (PLA).
PLA, like many other bioplastics, is a plant-based polymer that is considered ‘biodegradable’ only in industrial settings, and cannot be domestically composted.
The move comes following an announcement from Waitrose stating it has become the first UK supermarket to sell own-brand tea bags that are certified as suitable for home composting. A move that City to Sea welcomes.
In 2021 the CMA launched its guidance for businesses on making green claims. In it, it states that “if a product will only biodegrade or compost in certain conditions, for example requiring specialist equipment or processes that are not commonly used, this should be explained. Otherwise, consumers are liable to assume the claim applies to the typical methods for disposing of the product”.
These are standards that City to Sea say tea brands are not meeting. The CMA says that businesses need to consider “whether their claims are conditional and qualified; that they have made this clear; and that the claim, as a whole, is accurate.”