Sainsbury’s is launching a mass rollout of its first plant-based own-brand teabags to stop 815 million bags a year ending up in landfill.
From June the supermarket will launch the bags which contain plant-based plastic, compared with oil-based plastic, as part of the company’s commitment to halving plastic packaging by 2025.
Currently Sainsbury’s own-brand teabags are from 75% natural fibres and 25% oil-based plastic, but bosses have been trialling plant-based plastic Polylactic acid, made from sugars in cornstarch, cassava or sugarcane.
The retailer said it has seen a surge in tea sales this year – up 6% on the previous 12 months.
As part of the changes, bosses are also removing outer plastic wrapping from 11 products, which is the equivalent of 5.3 million pieces a year or 16.2 tonnes of plastic.
Claire Hughes, director of product, packaging and innovation at Sainsbury’s, said “This extensive rollout of our new teabags is another example of how we are looking to implement new innovative products that will reduce the impact our business has on the environment.
“Our move towards plant-based teabags has required significant time and multiple trials to ensure that our customers receive the same great quality teabag and we look forward to the rollout in stores this year.”
The commitment is part of Sainsbury’s plans to become a net-zero business by 2040.
Teabags tend to need to contain oil-based plastic around the seal of the bag to ensure leaves do not spill into drinks and manufacturers have been struggling in the past to find non oil-based alternatives.