PG Tips switches to biodegradable teabags and vows to completely ditch all plastic packaging by next year
- Plastic wrap surrounding tea boxes will be removed from some packs this year
- The company already makes teabags from biodegradable plant-based material
- PG Tips is the first major tea brand to switch to fully plastic-free product lines
One of the largest tea brands in the UK, PG Tips, is removing all plastic packing from next year and has already switched to biodegradable plant-based teabags.
The bags are made from corn starch and were first introduced on a limited range of products in 2018, but this latest move will see all of their teas use these bags.
The tea company has also removed the outer plastic wrap on its 160-pack boxes with plans to remove the outer plastic wrap from the rest of the sizes next year.
Unilever says that the new plant-based materials would provide retailers with a product that ‘shoppers are actively looking for’ and help the environment.
A Harvard Business Review survey found consumers were five times more likely to buy sustainable products, which has prompted many firms to start to change lines.
The tea company has also removed the outer plastic wrap on its 160-pack boxes with plans to remove the outer plastic wrap from the rest of the sizes next year
Fiachra Moloney, UK & Ireland Tea Director at brand-owner Unilever, told trade magazine The Grocer that the company had been working towards making the switch to a fully plant-based product for several years.
‘The switch to working with this new material has not been without its challenges due to the size, speed and scale of our operation,’ he said.
‘We have been continuously adjusting factory lines so that now all our boxes contain biodegradable pyramid teabags.’
Unilever says it is ‘extremely proud’ to be the first major tea brand to switch to biodegradable bags across its entire range.
The firm says the brand’s new sustainable credentials would be played up on both the front and back of the new-look packs.
PG tips’ Manchester factory, where the tea is blended and packaged, is also carbon neutral with 100% of the energy used coming from renewable sources.
Back in 2018 Unilever became the first major mainstream tea brand to switch to biodegradable teabags on some products.
This extends that by only using the new bags, that are free of polypropylene – a chemical used to give pyramid bags their shape.
According to a YouGov survey PG Tips is the second most consumed beverage brand in the UK – after Robinsons and just ahead of Schweppes.
This forms part of a wider series of measures by PG Tips parent company Unilever to fight climate change and ‘preserve resources for future generations’.
The firm said it was committed to improve the health of of the planet including achieving net zero emissions by 2039 and working with more smallholders to protect and restore forests.
Uniliver plans to invest £900 million spread over all of its brands in a new climate and nature fund designed to take action to improve the planet over the next decade.
Unilever says that the new plant-based materials would provide retailers with a product that ‘shoppers are actively looking for’ and help the environment
Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, said: ‘While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us.
‘Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity – all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously.’
This push for net zero could see PG Tips put on the market by Uniliver, according to trade magazine The Grocer.
Jope said in 2019 it wasn’t for sale but that the company was carrying out a full strategic review of its tea business with its impact on the environment as a factor.
He said the tea business had a ‘disproportionately large footprint in black tea which is slower-growing’ and a ‘long track record of being dilutive to growth and margin, so this strategic review announcement means we want to investigate how we can best create value for stakeholders.’
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