R-tea’s Eco Journey
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
You may notice that our capsules may look a little bit different, that is because it is part of the work we have been doing to take R-tea towards fulfilling the goal of Responsible Consumption and Production, 1 of the 17 globally recognised UN Sustainable Development Goals.
So far this year we have introduced compostable refill packs and plastic free teabags. Now we have made a big jump with our capsules, moving from polystyrene (PE) which is rarely recycled to a widely recyclable plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This means you can have peace of mind when adding your capsules to your recycling.
The first step on our journey was to offer regular customers the opportunity to buy their favourite regular teas in new eco friendly refill packs. These bags are made from kraft paper lined with a PLA plastic. PLA, or polylactic acid, is a thermoplastic derived from natural products such as corn starch, cassava roots, chips or starch, or sugarcane. The sugar derivative from these organic materials, in forms such as starch or cellulose, are then fermented into lactic acid and turned into pellet. These pellets can then be melted down and spun to take just about any form.
Unlike petroleum based plastics this bioplastic will biodegrade into constituent parts carbon dioxide and water. For example if left at the bottom of the ocean it would biodegrade in 6 to 24 months, thus reducing the plastic waste swirling round our oceans. However in order to compost effectively it needs to be placed in an industrial composter which are heated, it will not work if you add it to your garden compost pile. The best way to dispose of these bags is put it in your food waste bin.
Plastic Free Tea bags
Most normal teabags may feel like they are made from paper but they actually contain a layer of plastic which is used to seal the sides of the paper during production. Even the large pyramid tea bags are often made of nylon which is not really biodegradable. Which means if you put your teabag in your food waste they won't actually break down.
After extensive research we managed to source new loose leaf tea bags made from 100% wood pulp. The bags are sealed using a combination of compression and ultrasound. So now you can throw away your tea bags safe in the knowledge it is free from unsustainable plastic.
PET Plastic Capsules
Our capsules were originally made from a brittle form of polystyrene plastic (PE), which can be recycled but unfortunately isn't accepted in most regions. So instead we have moved our tea into capsules that are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is one of the widely recycled plastics in the UK. PET is one of the few polymers that can be broken down and reformed into the same form again, thus it creates a closed sustainable recycling loop.
In addition to this the aluminium lid used on our capsules is also widely recyclable. In fact aluminium has been recycled for nearly 100 years and 75 percent of the metal ever made is still in use today.
R-tea is Eco Friendly
It is not the easiest thing to change all your packaging at the busiest time of the year. But we feel the end result is worth it, to give us, our customers and the planet peace of mind that our company is not having a negative effect on the environment. After our capsule changes we now feel we are in a position to say officially; R-tea is Eco Friendly.