Following a £26m investment, Tetley has made a giant leap forward on its sustainable journey with the introduction of the most significant change to its pack format in 30 years.

New pack design

Launching a new carton pack to replace its softpack packaging for its black tea range; new cartons for Tetley, from 40s to 240s, are beginning to appear on shelf this month.

With the transition of all softpacks to the new format, Tetley will hit a major milestone with 97% of its packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable in line with its commitment to the UK Plastics Pact to achieve 100% by 2025.

Although Tetley’s Softpack packaging still provides many benefits; with no recycling facilities able to handle the thin layer of laminate on the packaging, Tetley has been working on finding a solution which retains the benefits of softpack for some time.

Its new cartons have been made to mirror the advantageous sizing of Tetley’s softpack packaging as closely as possible. The compact design is around 25% smaller than competitive packs, meaning more efficient transportation and use of shelf-space in store; ease of like for like replacement; plus of course saving space in home cupboards.

The new Tetley packs have no plastic outer film or inner bag and are made from 100% recyclable card and food grade inks.

The packaging can be disposed through normal card recycling routes. 

Plant-based tea bags

The tea bags themselves are made from plant-based materials and are neatly stacked inside. After use, the teabags, with their fine fresh blend of tea, can be sent for composting via kerbside food collection by councils for disposal.

The move to plant-based bags is a massive undertaking for the brand, in total it has 9bn teabags and 200 product lines to convert.

Tetley has taken time to do this properly and avoid the issue of tea bag splits, common to early adopters.

Plant-based tissue is happier working in environments 6x slower than Tetley’s high-speed production environment. Tetley’s engineers at its factory in Teesside worked with its automation supplier to develop special technology to enable the tissue to cope at high speed, and the brand to maintain the high-quality standards that its customers expect. The resulting solution has been patented by the company.

Packs of Tetley Original, Decaf, Extra Strong and Gold are all moving to the new pack format; rigid outer casing protects the cartons integrity, and their stackable nature means delivery can be made without secondary plastic wrap.

“This is a major development for our sustainability programme on so many counts,” says Head of Strategy Deployment & Sustainability Cassie Shuttlewood, “From using existing machinery at our factory and repurposing it to deliver new modern formats and plant-based tea bags, to the final execution of a compact pack, cleverly packaged with the requirements of both customers and consumers in mind.

“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.”

The Impact

On completion of the roll-out of biodegradable bags and the transition of all softpack packaging to the new carton format, Tetley will have removed 34.6 million pieces of non-recyclable multi-layer laminate from its waste stream and 9bn non-biodegradable tea bags.

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