Which tea bags can be composted?

paper tea bags can be composted

Tea bags that do not contain plastic are safe for composting. Although you wouldn’t think tea bags use plastic, some companies use the sealing plastic polypropylene to keep the tea bags in one piece. Polypropylene is non-biodegradable, which means it will not break down and should not be used in composting. However, even if the bag uses plastic, you can pour the used tea leaves out of the bag to include in your compost pile.

The tea brands listed below have bags that are free from plastic and are safe to add to your compost pile. (But always do a quick double check in case they have updated their bags.)

  • Abel & Cole
  • Akbar: Tea bag is compostable; do not compost staple or paper envelope, which has a metalized plastic layer
  • Bigelow Tea Company: Bags are compostable, but sleeves contain plastic and should not be composted
  • Brew Tea Co.
  • Celestial Seasonings
  • Clipper
  • Co-op 99
  • Eteaket
  • Hampstead
  • Luzianne: Do not use staples or silver foil in composting
  • Lyons Tea (Unilever)
  • Numi Tea: Bags are compostable, but sleeves contain plastic and should not be composted
  • PG Tips (Unilever): Pure Leaf teas
  • Pukka Herbs
  • Red Diamond: Bags are compostable, but sleeves contain plastic and should not be composted
  • Republic of Tea
  • Salada
  • Stash Tea
  • T2
  • Teapigs
  • Teatulia
  • Teekampagne
  • Traditional Medicinals: Bags are compostable, but sleeves contain plastic and should not be composted
  • Twinings (Associated British Foods): Except for heat-sealed or string and tag teas
  • Waitrose Duchy 
  • We Are Tea

The following brands do use plastic or another non-biodegradable material in their products, so they should not be included in composting:

  • Aldi
  • Argo Tea
  • Betty’s Tea
  • Bushells (Unilever Australia)
  • Harney & Sons
  • Lidl
  • Lipton
  • Mighty Leaf: Can be used for commercial composting, but not home composting
  • Peet’s Coffee & Tea (W.R. Hambrecht Co. Inc.): Can be used for commercial composting, but not home composting)
  • PG Tips: Except for Pure Leaf teas
  • Taylors of Harrogate
  • Tazo
  • Teavana
  • Tetley
  • Twinings (Associated British Foods): Heat-sealed or string and tag teas
  • Typhoo
  • Yogi Tea (East West Tea Company LLC)
  • Yorkshire Tea

If the company you use for tea isn’t listed here, you may wish to contact them to ask whether their teabags contain any plastic and whether they are compostable. If you aren’t sure, however, it’s best to be on the safe side and refrain from composting them.

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