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Are Trader Joe’s Tea Bags Compostable? (Answered)

Are Trader Joe's Tea Bags Compostable

If you’ve ever bought tea bags from Trader Joe’s, or are a frequent customer of their tea bags, you must have wondered if they’re recyclable by composting, especially if you’re looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Trader Joe’s paper tea bags are wrapped in compostable film. Their paper tea bags are considered an optimal item to compost for people who are environmentally conscious. The paper tea bags are known to break down and get absorbed into the soil just as easily as the tea does, as opposed to plastic tea bags, which cannot be composted. 

Read on to find out everything you need to know about Trader Joe’s tea bags, whether or not they can be composted, and how to compost the tea bags that are compostable.

Does Trader Joes Use Plastic Tea Bags?

There are a lot of grocery stores out there which have tea bags that contain trace or large amounts of plastic, thus making them non-compostable.

However, you’ll be pleased to know that, according to their Sustainability Progress Statement of 2019, they no longer house tea bags with plastic covering or film, but rather, the ones which are fully compostable.

Not only is this initiative sustainable, it also helps protect our environment from unnecessary trash and landfills filling up with more and more plastic. In this sense, tea covered in paper or compostable film is far more biodegradable than the tea covered in plastic films.

Trader Joe’s compostable films are made of bio-plastics, which are a renewable, plant-based product with the main ingredient being vegetable oils.

It’s important to note that, if the tea brand says that our tea bags are made of bio-plastics, they should only be composted by an industrial facility, and not by your own self at home.

Do Compostable Tea Bags Have Plastic?

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The compostable tea bags made of bioplastics are of 2 types, one being PLA (polylactide or polylactic acid). This acid is made by organic sources, and thus differs from the traditional plastic in terms of origin and production.

This is also what makes this product biodegradable, although only under commercial composting techniques.

Not only are the bioplastics made with PLA biodegradable, but they’re also edible and carbon-neutral, which means it does not emit carbon dioxide.

This is better than the classic plastics made with polypropylene, which cannot be composted or recycled. 

The other type of bioplastics, PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate), are made by microorganisms. Although this type has the same chemical structure as that of a traditional plastic, it’s still biocompatible.

This bioplastic is biodegradable and often used to package single-use grocery items like tea bags, making it eco-friendlier.

To check the current price and availability of Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea Caffeine Free, click here to view the listing on Amazon.

Can All Tea Bags Be Composted?

No, not all tea bags can be composted. Tea bags are made of a myriad of materials, unfortunately, not all of them are compostable.

Those made with polypropylene are traditional plastics, and thus the tea bag film cannot be composted as it is non-biodegradable.

Let’s talk more about the different materials used to make tea bags and their compostable natures.

  • Tea bag film the tea bags made from filter paper as their covering can be composted, as filter paper is made from an organic and biodegradable material. Another material sometimes used to bag the tea is silk, which is also composting-friendly, however, it’s not very popular within vegans. The tea bag films made from plastic are obviously not compostable, as they contain materials impossible to break down, even in a commercial composting facility.
  • Sealing material – the tea bags folded simply or tied in a knot with a cotton string can be composted, as they don’t contain any extra chemical components that get in the way of their composting. However, the tea bags sealed with glue made from polypropylene, a biodegradable material that takes longer to be composted because of its ultimate chemical nature. Similarly, the tea bags closed up with a stapling pin cannot be composted as it is metal, however, it’s advisable to remove it before composting your tea bags.
  • Tea – you’ll be very happy to know that, even if the covering of the tea is not compostable, the tea itself is. The tea inside the tea bag contains dried up leaves and herbs, so all of the organic materials which can be composted, even at home.

How Do You Know if a Tea Bag Is Compostable?

There are different indicators companies put on their products to better inform their customers of their recyclable or compostable nature, some of the tell-tale signs to look out for are:

  1. ‘BPI certified’ label
  2. ‘#7 PLA’ on the plastic
  3. ‘Made from plants (starch)’ in the label
  4. The word ‘Compostable’ or ‘Industrially compostable’ in which case it should not be composted at home. 
  5. If the product says ‘biodegradable’, look for the word ‘compostable’ too, since being biodegradable doesn’t necessarily mean a product is compostable too. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Brands of Tea Bags Are Compostable?

Sustainable production has taken over the tea bag producing industry, and now more and more companies are producing fully compostable tea bags, some of them being; 

  • Art of Tea
  • Numi Organic Tea
  • PG Tips
  • Twinnings
  • Celestial Seasonings
  • Harney and Sons
  • Fortnum ; Mason
  • Bigelow Tea
  • Big Heart Tea
  • Pukka Herb Teas
  • Luzianne Tea
  • The Republic of Tea

Are Tea Bags Considered Green or Brown Compost?

Tea bags are considered ‘green’ compost, since it contains tea leaves with the additional benefit of many herbs that prove fruitful for your soil and plant nutrition.

As they’re organic and nitrogen-rich, they prove to be a good balance for the ‘brown’ carbon-rich compost. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we can safely assume that most of Trader Joe’s tea bags are compostable, as said on their page.

However, it is important to realize that, even in the compostable tea bags, there are some which can only be industrially composted by specific facilities, not to be tried a home. So look for labels which say ‘industrially composted’ on the tea bag packaging to confirm before trying to compost it yourself.

We hope this information helps you in the future, and that you use this knowledge to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, helping our planets and ensuring a healthier way of life for your future generations.


Shane is a fitness enthusiast who also has a passion for trying and cooking new foods. His favorite stores to shop at include Trader Joe's, Wholefoods Market, Sprouts, Stater Brothers, and Target.

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