Clipper Teas pledges to go plastic-free

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Plastic-free: a fully biodegradable teabag is due to be ready by the summer after two trials
Plastic-free: a fully biodegradable teabag is due to be ready by the summer after two trials
Organic tea maker Clipper has followed Unilever brand PG Tips in pledging to remove all traces of plastic from its teabags.

A fully biodegradable teabag is due to be in operation by the summer after two trials on a new substrate have been completed, said brand owner Wessanen UK.

The plastic-free teabags are to be unbleached and free of genetically-modified (GM) organisms, in line with the brand’s natural and organic ethos, it added.

With a strong environmental focus, Clipper uses 100% natural ingredients and is a certified carbon neutral company, said Adele Ward, Clipper Teas brand controller at Wessanen UK.

“We are committed to making sure our tea is made in a natural way with a clear conscience,” ​said Ward.

‘Made from all plant-based materials’

To help minimise our impact on the environment our aim is to create a teabag paper made from all plant-based materials. Not only will it be biodegradable, it will also remain unbleached and adhere to our organic principles.

“The development of this new substrate, which is completely GM-free and 100% unbleached, means it’s taking a little more time to finalise, but this is a key priority for us.”

Last month, Unilever announced it would replace the polypropylene used as a sealant on its PG Tips teabags with a material made from corn starch, making them 100% renewable and biodegradable.

It said its aim was that all teabags it manufactured would use the new material by the end of 2018.

Ward said Unilever was aware of an existing alternative teabag substrate made from corn that was biodegradable and suitable for the food waste-bin.

“However, because the corn used can potentially be from genetically modified sources it is not an acceptable option for Clipper,”​ she explained.

‘Ticking all boxes for Clipper’

Therefore, we’ve invested our time to find the right solution and are now trialling an alternative that is 100% biodegradable, compostable, non-GM, and unbleached, thus ticking all boxes for Clipper and helping to protect our planet.”

Operating from a factory in Beaminster, Dorset, Clipper manufactures an extensive variety of organic and Fairtrade teas and coffees – from everyday blends to green tea and infusions.

It claimed to be the world’s largest buyer of Fairtrade tea, and exports its products to more than 50 countries.

In January, Wessanen invested £1.25m in new equipment​, allowing it to manufacture all of its tea brands from the Beaminster site.

The investment was part of a wider project to move all operations into a new factory​ on the site. Last year, former operations director Mark Bagwell told Food Manufacture​ how the plans would benefit the business​.

The company has also made a series of high-profile appointments in recent months, including a new CEO​ and a corporate social responsibility director​.

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