Sarah Clifford-Smith investigates how billions of micro-plastic could be polluting your morning brew.
Photo by Clay Banks
A recent Canadian study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology has found that tea bags release billions of micro-plastics when submerged in boiling water.
The scientists conducting the study found 11.6 billion micro-plastic and 3.1 billion nano-plastic particles were released from just one tea bag. The release of such particles is accelerated by high temperatures, so the boiling water used to make our morning cups of tea is allowing high volumes of the micro-plastics to enter our cuppas.
The History of Tea
The drinking of tea originated in China, with tea bags first making their way to the West for commercial consumption in the early 1900s. They were favoured for their convenience, however the tea put into the bags was often comprised of leftovers from tea processing factories producing lower quality tea. The first tea bags were made using gauze sacks.
Today, the bags are commonly made with filter paper, however polypropylene, a type of plastic, is used to seal the bags; this makes many tea bag not fully biodegradable, with some premium brands making their bags entirely from plastic.
The World Health Or