13 August 2021
By Tom Collins
Many people had been putting their used Barry’s Teabags into compost, only to discover they contained a whiteish plastic fluff which didn’t biodegrade
After years of hard work from Uplift community members, Barry’s Tea has finally ditched the plastic in their tea bags. Uplift, a campaigning community of over 365,000 people across the island, have been campaigning on this issue for a couple of years after one of their members started a petition highlighting the issue.
After pressure from Uplift members, Barry’s Tea promised to remove the plastic in their tea bags in 2018 but no concrete action was seen. In response, Uplift members created a live counter in August 2020 – showing that 97 Barry’s tea bags are consumed per second in Ireland. That amounted to over 9.5 billion tea bags since 2018 lying in compost heaps that can’t be broken down.
After Barry’s Tea continued to drag their heels, Uplift campaigners delivered a 13,000 signature petition to Barry’s Tea headquarters in Cork – alongside a giant mug of tea, filled with plastic (from their recycling bins) to highlight the plastic in every mug of Barry’s Tea.
This year, Barry’s Tea announced that from the end of August (2021) all of the company’s tea bags will be plastic-free, and thus 100% biodegradable. To show their thanks to Barry’s Tea for listening, 222 Uplift members across Ireland tweeted messages of thanks to the company.
In a media statement Michelle Byrne, Uplift Campaigner said:
“At a time where there is grim news around the world around the climate crisis, there is hope when people power has shown we can hold companies accountable and push them to change their practices. This is a great win – and it would never have happened without the commitment and sheer determination of our Uplift community. But we won’t stop there – together we’ll keep putting pressure on companies to stop polluting and destroying our environment.”
After an individual shared our petition on Twitter in August 2021, the Barry’s Tea official twitter @barrysteatweets responded, ‘From the end of August, we anticipate that all production of our retail range will be 100% biodegradable. Our sustainability journey continues at pace and there is further good news coming soon.’
The full petition can be found here on the MyUplift site: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/barry-s-tea-make-teabags-100-compostable
The tea bag counter on the Uplift website: https://www.uplift.ie/barrys_tea_plastic_tea_bags_counter
Barry’s Tea update on sustainability: https://www.barrystea.ie/sustainability/
Barry’s Tea response to the campaign in August 2021: https://twitter.com/BarrysTeaTweets/status/1422148910152396802?s=20
Comment from Barry’s Tea
Earlier this year – in April 2021 for a previous article of ours – TheCork.ie wrote to Barry’s Tea PR firm who replied with a quote from Barry’s Tea Managing Director, Aidan Dunlea:
“At Barry’s Tea, we have been innovating to deliver biodegradable teabags. For all of us here, sustainability is of enormous importance. As of November 2020 80% of our teabags produced were biodegradable. As of 6th April, all of Barry’s Tea teabags produced in Cork for retailers nationwide are 100% biodegradable. For an independent, family-owned, Irish business we are proud of the sustainability targets we are reaching. The journey for better continues.”