Is your plastic free, really free of plastic? 

Recently, in an aim to preserve the environment there has been a huge global push to reduce plastic waste, including that related to the tea and coffee industry. This push has caused the launch of some new products, claiming to be more environmentally friendly.

One term being used a lot is “plastic free”. Which of course means a product is free from any plastic, or does it?

Some consumers weren’t even aware that there was plastic in their tea bag paper. Heat-sealed tea bags are the most commonly used tea bags in the U.K and usually come as a square or round bag. When looking at one of these bags, there’s no obvious sign of plastic, however as was widely reported by the media in 2018 tea bags contain 2% plastic which is non-toxic and used to seal the paper together to stop the tea from falling out.

In an aim to reduce plastic waste, paper manufacturers such as Union Papertech and others have been working on environmentally friendly alternatives to replace the plastic used to seal the paper. The most common replacements are biopolymers like PLA.

PLA bioplastic can be made from natural materials such as corn starch and vegetable sugars; it’s sustainable, renewable, biodegrades and is compostable, meaning it is much more environmentally friendly than the oil based plastic currently used. Nevertheless despite it being a bioplastic, it’s still a polymer, albeit and environmentally friendly one!

To be as clear and transparent as possible with customers, Union Papertech prefers not to use the term “plastic free” because PLA is commonly known as a bioplastic. A Plastic Planet, an action group who certify plastic free, suggest that plant based polymers are not plastic free, but compostable bioplastics are plastic free. Confusingly, PLA fits within the middle of their definition as it’s derived from plants but doesn’t include ethanol and is compostable to EN13432 Standard (European standard of industrial composting).

Union Papertech believe compostable bioplastics are the way forward to creating a greener, more sustainable industry, which is why we’ve used this technology when crafting our latest line of 100% biodegradable heat-sealable filter paper, Puri Seal Green! Combating the issue of plastic waste in the hot beverage industry , one cup at a time.

If you have any questions about what’s really in your paper, drop us an email at sales@upapertech.com