We dragged the trawl behind the boat for 30 minutes this morning. The trawl is 0.6 metres wide and the boat was travelling slowly only three knots. We collected a lot of plastic. Well we thought it was a lot considering we are hundreds of miles offshore in a quiet part of the ocean and far away from the high populations of North America and Europe. (the squares on the paper are 5mm)
We have a bucket in the galley where we throw biodegradable material that we then dispose of in the ocean. The plastics and glass we take back to land for recycling.
For some reason we started talking about the tea bags which we have been throwing in this bucket. We have been using PG Tips and Yorkshire Tea. We emailed a shore contact to find out some more information. Do Tea Bags contain plastic? This was the reply: Taylors of Harrogate (who make Yorkshire Tea) say that “we can confirm that we are working with our supplier of teabag paper to develop a paper that is 100% plant-based, but right now our tea bags do contain polypropylene as part of the fibres”.
PG Tips say their “teabags are made with 80% paper fibre which is fully compostable along with the tea leaves contained in the bag. The remaining packaging includes a small amount of plastic which is not fully biodegradable: this is needed to create a seal to keep the tea leaves inside the bag”. However, they didn’t have the information to state whether or not this was polypropylene. They have committed to switching to fully biodegradable tea bags by the end of 2018 apparently.
The plastic fibres all seem to come from the polypropylene used to seal the top of the bag. Most manufacturers seem to be committing to 100% degradable soon, so bags in the bin for now it would seem!
We were surprised. Who would have thought that tea bags are plastic?