Barry’s Tea says it is working to take plastics out of its tea bags

Many tea brands use polypropylene to help tea bags retain shape

Barrys tea is working to take micro-plastics out of its tea bags

Barrys tea is working to take micro-plastics out of its tea bags

 

Barry’s Tea is looking at ways to remove plastics from its current range of teabags and make them compostable “as speedily as possible”.

The company confirmed that it had been carrying out trials with its filter paper supplier as a online petition calling on the Cork company to make more environmentally friendly products gathered momentum.

Many tea brands use a heat-resistant plastic sealant called polypropylene to help tea bags retain shape and while most consumers are unaware of the fact, the presence of such micro-plastics means tea bags are non-compostable.

Earlier this year Unilever - which owns Lyons Tea - announced plans to remove all plastic from its tea bags before the end of the year after more than 200,000 people signed an online petition in the UK.

The multinational said its tea bags will be made from a plant-based material that is 100 per cent renewable and biodegradable.

O ver 9,000 people have now signed a petition posted on the Uplift website by Lisa Quinn. It calls on Barry’s to follow suit in order to combat an escalating plastic waste crisis.

“I’ve been throwing my tea bags into the compost for years,” Ms Quinn said. “When I found out I was polluting our soil and our water with microplastics, I was really disappointed with Barry’s. I’m sick of big companies being so irresponsible, and expecting everyday people to pick up their slack.” she said .

“When I contacted Barry’s, they told me to cut open my tea bag, empty the leaves into the compost, then wash and dry the tea bag and put that in the recycling bin. It’s absurd!”

A spokeswoman for Barry’s told The Irish Times it was “listening to our consumers’ concerns and working hard towards a plastic-free tea bag solution”.

She said the “limited number of tea filter paper suppliers” in the industry are working on solutions “that all tea producers will be able to adopt. As an industry, I believe we are all dedicated to the common goal of going plastic-free.”

She said Barry’s Tea had carried out several trials its with our filter paper supplier “and we will continue to work to find a solution to this problem as quickly as we possibly can.”

She said the company made millions of tea bags a week and needed “to ensure that the replacement works from a manufacturing perspective and, most importantly, that it is safe for our consumers. Once we have a solution confirmed, we will share the date that our new plastic-free tea bags will be available to purchase.”

She said the company was doing everything in its power “to come to a solution as speedily as possible”.