Sixty six percent of UK citizens collectively consumer 165 million cups of tea every day, making it that country’s most popular drink, and most of those tea bags end up in landfill bins.
Now Unilever UK, maker of PG Tips and the largest tea buyer in the world, purchasing close to 12% of the world's supply of black tea, is looking to make a more environmentally friendly cuppa.
Already committed to sustainable farming, partnering with the Rainforest Alliance in 2008, the company has just joined forces with two Essex councils, Brentwood and Chelmsford, and with Wrap, the U.K. government's advisory body on waste, to encourage Brit tea-drinkers to compost their teabags with their food waste.
According to Wrap, tea is far and away “the largest element of unavoidable food waste produced in the UK, above items such as fruit peel and onion skins, accounting for around 370,000 tonnes of waste every year. Wrap also advises people to compost teabags even when they contain polypropylene – the heat-resistant sealant that is not fully bio-degradable.”
The UK now processes one million tons a year of food waste via anaerobic digestion, and as part of Unilever’s company-wide sustainability commitment, the manufacturing giant is committed to reducing the amount of waste it sends to landfill by 50% within the next eight years.
"To achieve our ambitious targets, we need to collaborate with organisations such as Wrap and forward-thinking councils such as Chelmsford and Brentwood in order to encourage consumers to recycle wherever they can. Only through such partnerships can we really begin to tackle such challenges," Paul Sherratt, global packaging and sustainability director at Unilever told the Guardian.
Leading the campaign is PG Tip’s iconic Monkey, the latest eco-warrior. "Unilever's teabags are mainly made from organic material so we believe that putting them in with the rest of the household food waste will be a small habit change that everyone can adopt," Sherratt added.