Unilever UK’s tea brand PG Tips has unveiled plans to stop using plastic teabags and shift to eco-friendly plant-based teabags by the end of this year.

To be trialled in stores next week, the new teabags will be made using fully renewable and biodegradable plant-based material.

PG Tips noted that a majority of the manufacturers use polypropylene to seal the teabag.

Prior to the development of the new solution, the company made pyramid bags mostly with paper and a ‘small amount’ of polypropylene.

“It’s great to hear that PG Tips is helping them to do this with the introduction of their new fully biodegradable teabag.”

Unilever refreshment vice-president Noel Clarke said: “The new 100% plant-based material we’re moving to is an innovation based on cutting-edge science and technology and we’re all really excited that, starting from now, the PG Tips that you know and love will come from 100% plant-based material from a renewable source that’s fully biodegradable.”

The solution is a result of research initiatives taken by Unilever R&D scientists, who have been engaged in identifying plant-based alternatives for PG Tips in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of its products.

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Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) organics programme manager Mike Falconer Hall said: “We’re keen to see the UK’s tea drinkers recycle their teabags and it’s great to hear that PG Tips is helping them to do this with the introduction of their new fully biodegradable teabag.”

An online petition was filed nine months ago urging manufacturers, including Unilever, to remove plastic from teabags. The movement was supported by 232,135 signatories.

Last month, UK-based convenience retailer Co-op announced that it will develop biodegradable paper teabags for its 99 Tea brand.