Tetley, the UK-tea brand owned by Indian multinational conglomerate Tata Consumer Products, has unveiled what it describes as the “most significant change” to its packaging in its 30 year history.

Packs of Tetley’s Original, Decaf, Extra Strong and Gold teas are to move from soft plastic packaging to 100% recyclable card packs in UK supermarkets from this month.

The refreshed packaging is part of a £26m ($33.3m) investment by Tetley to increase the sustainability of its products. The brand claims 97% of Tetley’s packaging will now be reusable or recyclable, pushing it towards its stated target of 100% by 2025.

Tetley said there were no plans to roll out the changes to its 40 international markets including the US, Canada and Australia in the immediate term.

The tea brand claims the packs are 25% smaller than those of its competitors, making transportation and storage of its tea more efficient for retailers and consumers.

Teabags from the London-headquartered company are also made from plant-based materials and can be composted through local authorities that run kerbside compost collection services.

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In total, Tetley has had to convert 9bn teabags and 200 product lines to the new biodegradable material, a process it said it had not wanted to rush.

Plant-based tissue products are more prone to splitting in high-speed production environments, an issue Tetley said it had solved through the use of a newly patented technology.

“This is a major development for our sustainability programme on so many counts,” said head of strategy deployment and sustainability Cassie Shuttlewood.

“We’re still on a journey of improvement, there will always be more to do, but we’ll take a moment to pause and celebrate the contribution so many people have made to introduce this format which will make a major difference here in the UK and other international markets.”

Tata Consumer Products acquired Tetley in 2000 in a £271m deal made via its Tata Tea division. The English beverage manufacturer was originally founded in Yorkshire by Joseph and Edward Tetley in 1837.