by Mike Harney October 05, 2019 1 min read 67 Comments

About a week has passed since the report came out about petroleum particles. Here is what we have done:
  • We have read and disseminated the complete report. Knowledge is power.
  • We have been discussing this report with a professor to understand the science. After all, we know tea not plastic. 
  • We have been in discussions with the Canadian Tea Association, since the report came from Canada.
  • Our goal is to find a material that allows for our valued customers to continue to enjoy the convenience of sachets without worrying what petroleum based plastics do to themselves and the world.

Solutions:

  • We continue to believe that sugarcane based polylactic acid is the best chance of that. That is why we have been working with it for over a year. However we have had a problem getting a tag attached. Hopefully, this week we can get that solved.
  • We continue to trial it at the University of Houston, as well as providing these polylactic acid sachets in compostable 50 CT Sachet bags. They wanted a greener solution and this made more sense than material from genetically modified corn. 
  • We have ordered more of that material.
  • We are investigating what happens to this material in hot water and the initial report is promising, but more work needs to be done to be conclusive.
  • We have cancelled any orders for petroleum based material. We are burning our boats and changing.
Please let us know of any questions that you may have.
Mike Harney
Mike Harney


67 Responses

R.lewis
R.lewis

March 24, 2021

The the type of fuel our cars use and the materials that they are comprised of are more harmful to the environment than any amount of nylon tea bags that are in the subject here. Just sayin

Heather W.
Heather W.

February 23, 2021

I am commenting to be kept abreast of any updates to this issue (which really shouldn’t even be an issue). I mean, use what other clean tea companies use.

Daenerys
Daenerys

February 17, 2021

In a 19-Jan-2021 blog post about tea packaging, this is what Mike Harney had to say about the status of transitioning from nylon bags. Hope this helps others who landed here from Google as I did.

“While bringing nylon sachets into the US seemed like a good idea at first, we came to realize that they are not good for the planet. So we started down the road to make them compostable. We have found a sugarcane material that works and were ready to make the change when COVID-19 hit, and the Japanese techs could not come over to adjust our machines. Let’s hope in several months they will be able to make the trip, and we can switch. We are also making other packaging compostable. Of course, loose tea has less packaging, so there are fewer issues.”

Erica Meyer
Erica Meyer

February 08, 2021

I just started drinking your tea a couple of months ago. And I love it!!! So, today, I’ve been searching all over your website to figure out how to order the tea in bulk, but now I see your tea bags either have micro plastics or are not compostable. I also saw the comment that no work is being done on this because of the pandemic. This seems like a mission critical change management initiative that I hope you circle back to as soon as possible. So today, I’ll be doing research online to find a brand of tea that will give me green tea with coconut in an environmentally friendly package.

Sarah Cameron
Sarah Cameron

January 12, 2021

Hello,

I would like an update on the Nylon bag situation. I would like to know if current Nylon tea bags in Canada are safe vs not safe.

Cheers!

Kate - UpperWestSider
Kate - UpperWestSider

January 12, 2021

Just found this blog post on your website after my husband asked if the sachets are compostable (we compost nearly everything we eat/drink – the tea bag he was drinking is, it looks like yours isn’t). I’ll have to stop buying from you folks until you’ve found a compostable offering. In the meantime, it would be really nice if you could specify in the about page what material the sachets are made out of.

Siobhan Burns
Siobhan Burns

January 12, 2021

Agree with the requests for an update. At the very least, your website should inform what the sachets for a particular product are made of. I was disappointed to receive an organic tisane (not available in loose form) that turned out to be In what appears to be nylon bags.

Andrew Dyer
Andrew Dyer

January 12, 2021

I am finding Harney and Sons tea bags in my compost. Great compost with fully intact tea bags. Not good. Looking up on line I have found this conversation. This is no joke, please move on from plastics and the nylon tea bags. Convenience is king these days but it can be had with biodegradable fibers, reusable sashes, or loose leaf solutions. Please continue to move forward on this and make change happen. Thank you.

Diane
Diane

December 28, 2020

Echoing others’ request for a follow up on the status of replacing the nylon bags. I agree with person who said that tags aren’t necessary. If that’s the only barrier, please just remove the tags. Thank you!

Austin
Austin

December 28, 2020

Leaving a comment so that others who were curious and searched for answers on this can see and learn. I just called Harney and was disappointed to hear that they paused this project as a result of covid. This is an issue that is important to me as I do not want plastics in my body or the environment.

Lauren
Lauren

June 19, 2020

Hi, I’d like an update on your progress with switching to safer sachets, since the discovery of the dangers last fall. We had to switch to loose teas and infusers, and cutting open our old plastic sachets. It would help to know if you’ve got a safer product now. If you do, please announce it! Thanks!

Kathleen
Kathleen

May 19, 2020

Thank you for your continued efforts to eliminate the nylon sachets; as for the strings and tags – they’re not necessary, in fact I cut them off prior to using as they draw up the tea, making a wet mess. :(

D. Antic
D. Antic

May 19, 2020

I wish you’d sell loose tea in smaller packages than 1 pound and w/o tins. I love your tins and have several but getting tea in a tin every time is not the best for the environment. I want to buy loose tea but 1 pound is too much as it would last me forever, it requires long-term storage, and then it does not allow me to try different varieties as I simply do not have space to store 5 pounds of tea in the house. Can you please package your loose tea in 4oz and 8oz bags and then have an option to buy a tin if one would like a tin?

As for the sachets, opting for natural fiber like linen would be the best as it would not leach any plastics into the tea and is also quite environmentally friendly to produce. Thanks.

Steve
Steve

May 19, 2020

Are there any updates? We are not buying the plastic sachets, so our Harney choices are limited right now, but we are anxious to start buying Earl Grey Supreme again. Loose leaf is fine for home, but the pre-packaged bags are needed for work.

On a humorous note, you should’ve seen our faces when we realized that all of those hundreds of Harney sachets were never going to break down in our compost heap. We are still finding them in our garden, years later, fully intact.

Karen E.
Karen E.

April 07, 2020

Paris tea is my world favorite; I have got so many family and friends hooked on this tea! I greatly appreciate your seeking the healthiest option. I would prefer a paper tea bag and a tail is not necessary. But I would cut open the tea bag, brew it loose leaf, and strain it before I quit drinking this most exquisite of teas!!!

Noelle MacKenzie
Noelle MacKenzie

February 17, 2020

I am SO glad and relieved to see that you won’t be producing those noxious, nylon sachets anymore. As other people have mentioned, what’s wrong with paper tea bags?—especially compostable, environmental-friendly paper tea bags? Also, if the whole craze for these tea sachets was because of “extra flow-through room” (I’m not sure it really matters, honestly), why not make the paper tea bags bigger? Thank you for caring about the environment and your customers! Cheers! :)

Judy Canham
Judy Canham

February 06, 2020

i will only purchase teas that are environmentally responsible, including bags, tags and sachets. Thank you for addressing these concerns.

Danielle Downing
Danielle Downing

February 06, 2020

Thank you so much for taking action on this! I’ve long been concerned about the nylon bags (not compostable, not good for me) and am happy to see you making progress on this! As for the tags, do you need them? I use the spoon to fish my tea sachet out of the tea anyway, and I already know what tea I’m drinking so I don’t need it as an identifier. Save your resources and just go tagless :)

Linda Francis
Linda Francis

January 28, 2020

I am so-o-o glad to hear you are addressing the nylon bag problem. I gave up plastic bottles years ago, and I’ve been concerned about the non-recyclable, non-compostable bag for a long time—but couldn’t find any other tea to compete with Harney & Sons. The convincing research on plastic particles led me to think I would never be able to indulge in my beloved Herbal Hot Cinnamon Spice again. The recent post noting your new bags has inspired me to make a new order, which makes me happy. I don’t much care for either tags or bulk shipping bags; I keep the tins and transfer tea bags into them anyway—tags just get in the way, I use a spoon to remove my bag. I would love to be able to put my used tea bags in my garden compost.

Janice Rose
Janice Rose

January 22, 2020

Noticed the sachets in the Hot Cinnamon Sunset are different from the ones I ordered last month. As long as the tea itself remains unchanged, I am okay with the new tea bags. 😊

Margaret Skelly
Margaret Skelly

January 28, 2020

The important property of tea bag material with respect to plastic particles leaching into tea is the “glass transition temperature” of the plastic/polymer resin that is being used. The glass transition temperature is the temperature at which the polymer chains (intertwined like a cooked and dried bowl of noodles) start having enough kinetic energy to slide past each other (bowl of noodles now is wet/buttery and being shook violently). In a fine mesh like in a sachets, polymer chains do not have very far to wriggle before being released into the tea.
PLA may be from more sustainable sources than petroleum, but substituting PLA for Nylon only makes the micro- and nano- plastics problem slightly better.
The glass transition temperature for Nylon is 47C, that of PLA is 60-65C. Keep in mind that tea is supposed to be brewed around 80C, but is often brewed near boiling (100C). Based on these intrinsic material properties, investing in sachets made of plastics is not very progressive.
Please consider using natural fibers. Also, oxygen-bleaching cotton, manila hemp (abaca) or paper is considered quite safe and a common industry practice among the more health and well-being focused tea companies. Thank you for your transparency. Best of luck in this transition!

Sandi Main
Sandi Main

January 21, 2020

Thank you for investigating this. I would be fine without the tag. I’ve switched to loose tea for now to avoid the plastic, but there doesn’t seem to be a great quantity of my favorite, coconut green tea, on Amazon, and it’s not an option on your site.

Sherri Bebee
Sherri Bebee

January 13, 2020

I would rather have tabless myself. The tag always ends up in my cup as a floating soggy paper I have to fish out. Republic of Teas doesn’t have a tag on theirs. Maybe you can look into it. Thabknyou for being so honest. I stopped buying after I found about about the plastic but am more than willing to come back because you have the best tea.

Mary
Mary

December 17, 2019

I, too, am concerned about the nylon sachets, not only for the environment, but also based on the amount of plastic I may be ingesting every time I drink a cup of tea. I love your Christmas teas and have started to clip the sachet and brew the tea loosely. Which reminds me, why don’t you sell loose tea? Also, I’m fine with classic brown paper, biodegradable tea bags. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with as a replacement. Hopefully, it will be soon. There’s all ready too much plastic in our ecosystem. Thanks for your efforts and excellent tea.

Laurie
Laurie

November 23, 2019

Thank you for addressing this issue so quickly, honestly, and transparently. It shows your professionalism and regard for your customers!

Carrie
Carrie

November 21, 2019

I just learned of this sachet concern from a friend yesterday. I did a quick search for “Harney & Sons” + “Sachet” and found this. THANK YOU for being so forth coming, honest, and actionable. I love Harney tea and I’m excited to see what the company comes up with.

Thank you for continuing to make superior tea and look out for you loyal customers at the same time.

Peter Forman
Peter Forman

November 21, 2019

Would be happy with sencha in “sugar-cane” bags without tags in 50 unit bags.
Any way of making this available until you figure out the tag issue?

Rob Sloan
Rob Sloan

November 07, 2019

The favorable comments about how you’re taking action are spot on. Thank you! I’d like to add my support for your not being concerned with maintaining the sachets but going with paper and no tag. If the teas were offered in a cardboard container it would easy to transfer them to airtight containers to maintain freshness. I’m sure a lot of your customers save previously used tins and it’s easy to relabel them. Such packaging would also support efforts customers make to recycle and compost.

No No
No No

October 29, 2019

Brice: Yes, absolutely serging the tag onto the seam tail can be done. Anybody old enough remember when Fauchon (Paris) made (or subcontracted) their own cotton-cheesecloth tea bags in the 1980s, has seen just such a tail and lockstitch-sewn-on tag at the end of the braid. The question is, how much did it cost and did it take hand labor to fit the tag and trim? [Harneys: I willingly paid the premium for those Fauchon bags, and switched only because Fauchon stopped selling them. I later switched to your bags from Tea Forte because yours were nylon instead of PET, and had no wasteful “pyramid packaging”. I doubt you will publish this comment, but take it to heart: cotton is, as the Cotton Board keeps reminding us, “the fabric of our lives”, as opposed to “the petroleum products of our death.” On the other hand, I’m positive that Fauchon heavily bleached their inexpensive cotton; so who knows what byproduct I ingested, heh!]

Kirsten
Kirsten

October 23, 2019

I would love to see the HT teas loose leaf. I’ve taste-tested all of your breakfast teas, and the HT English Breakfast is my favorite. I don’t want to ingest microplastics, but I also do not want to give up my favorite tea.
Also, is there any action being taken for those of your customers who have already purchased your plastic teabags? An exchange program or something? In the meantime, I will continue to drink my HT English Breakfast tea, removing it from the bag & brewing it loose leaf. (It won’t solve the plastic waste problem, but it takes care of the plastic ingestion problem!)

Michelle
Michelle

October 23, 2019

Thank you for being so quick to address concerns regarding the results of this study. I love your tea and look forward to enjoying it far into the future without any worries.

Kat
Kat

October 23, 2019

When will these new sachets be available for purchase? I buy from Barnes and Noble

Jenny
Jenny

October 21, 2019

I originally bought the sachets because they were convenient and offered in bulk. I’d like to see tea in the paper tea bags, without the foil packaging. Kind of like Celestial Seasonings but maybe you can offer 20+ in a tin and 50+ in a bag.

Nadia
Nadia

October 16, 2019

I’m with Amy, I would be fine with a paper to go product. No need to complicate things with a plastic “sachet”. If the purposes of purchasing plastic are so important because it lends to a superior brew, supplying your own container is advised. I believe harney and sons has made its position that plastic is not welcome in its teas.

Donald James Pfundstein
Donald James Pfundstein

October 16, 2019

Thank you for taking the steps you have already. I look forward to your continued success and great tea.

Cathy Robb
Cathy Robb

October 12, 2019

I actually cut the tag off before pouring the hot water over it. (I like to leave the tea sachet in my cup while I drink it b/c I like my tea strong.)

Amy
Amy

October 12, 2019

Very much appreciate this effort and your prompt action in light of the study, but why not focus on/emphasize the safe (for people and the environment) paper tea bags you already sell? Sachets are pretty but not necessary for a good cup of tea, which is what most of us really care about when we buy Harney’s!

Brenda M Platt
Brenda M Platt

October 12, 2019

I love that you are taking a proactive approach to this…. I think I will have a cup of tea to celebrate!!!

Michele
Michele

October 12, 2019

Thank you Harney and Sons! I appreciate your dedication to addressing this. In the mean time can we get the pretty tins (for the 20 count sachets) available for loose leaf? #LooseLeaf #ThatTinThough #HtblendsGotTheBestPackaging

Autumn Elizabeth Michaels
Autumn Elizabeth Michaels

October 12, 2019

Thank you so much for striving for excellence and caring about the earth and the health of your customers! This is why we love Harney. I am particularly interested in fully biodegradeable sachets. I stopped purchasing sachets when I realized they are not biodegradeable.

Taran Tucker
Taran Tucker

October 12, 2019

This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am getting low on my current Harney & Sons tea and was extremely sad because I love your teas (currently drinking the Victorian London Fog and the Tower of London blends) and was thinking I might not be able to buy more in good conscience. Thank you for keeping us up to date on your efforts to provide us with the best tea experience and keep the earth clean.

Deborah Gardiner
Deborah Gardiner

October 12, 2019

You could also ask the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to comment on the Canadian teabag study and request their toxicology division to review. The FDA is responsible for US public safety for all food substances, package material, and labeling. I believe tea is considered a food, particularly now with all the natural fruit additives. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency may also want to comment on the teabag study.

Lesley McPherson
Lesley McPherson

October 12, 2019

Michael Harney you continue to impress me. I trust Harney and Son. Thank you for staying on top of the situation but most importantly thanks for taking a leadership role for being transparent. I have always preferred my tea loose so I am thankful that Harney’s provides loose, teabags, and sachets. I as a customer know that you have your customer’s best interests at heart.

Pamela Lannutti
Pamela Lannutti

October 08, 2019

Thank you for this update and for working to address the issue.

FERNANDO GARCIA
FERNANDO GARCIA

October 08, 2019

Great job Mike! Proud to be Harney & Sons distributors.

Cathy Tenzo
Cathy Tenzo

October 08, 2019

Although I prefer loose tea it’s nice to sometimes have the convenience of a sachet. You say you are having trouble attaching tags—I wonder if that is something you need to do. I used to buy Celestial Seasonings tea, and they have boxes full of tea with untagged sachets. Anyone who has a canister of a certain flavor of sachets will know which kind they are, and can use a spoon to remove them from the tea. Just a thought. Love your tea!

Cynthia Bishop
Cynthia Bishop

October 07, 2019

I have one more reason to talk up your company now…Thank you for helping us have more healthy options with our tea purchases. I loved the convienence of the sachets…but stopped buying them years ago when informed of possible plastic leaking into our tea cups….i am a customer for life and tell people all the time about how great cinnamon sunset is….now i have another reason to talk up your company….cindy b

jonny e kutz
jonny e kutz

October 07, 2019

At this point I have no problem using the sachets and will continue to buy them.
A report comes out stating something could be a problem but there are too
many variables.
There have been flawed studies before.

Merri Rosenberg
Merri Rosenberg

October 07, 2019

Good for you. Relieved you’re taking this issue seriously and doing what you can for the environment and your customers’ health.
We buy teas only from you. Thanks for all you do,

Tim Knab
Tim Knab

October 07, 2019

Mike, I teach a course on sustainable development here at the UDLAP in Cholula, Puebla, México and I wish there were more companies who would do what youn have done.I have been a fan of your teas since you started out and think you have done a GREAT job. Keep up the good work.

Jennifer
Jennifer

October 07, 2019

Thank you for taking steps to make sure your product is as healthy as possible. I appreciate your initiative to keep your customers up-to-date on your actions.

Meredith Childress
Meredith Childress

October 07, 2019

I love and trust Harney & Sons. It’s refreshing and comforting (important these days) to know you’re watching out for us. Thanks for your diligence and care toward good things now and in the future.

Catherine Pezze
Catherine Pezze

October 06, 2019

Thank you so much for being a responsible,family business. We will happily continue to enjoy your teas and the occasional visit to the tea room.Your efforts are TRULY appreciated!
Best
Cath

Lara Guerra
Lara Guerra

October 07, 2019

Thank you for actively pursuing options to the plastic based tea bags! I know this is a huge shift for you all but I am confident that you will be the leaders in developing new packaging. Thank you for being transparent! I always purchase my tea in bulk and use an over the cup infuser but I appreciate everything that Harney is doing. Please don’t publish this comment — I just want to let you all know how I feel about this.

Meda Brown
Meda Brown

October 06, 2019

Thank you for acting swiftly! I will be using a tea ball until further notice.

Mary jo Rebbe
Mary jo Rebbe

October 06, 2019

Thank you so much for the update! That means a lot

Karen Reed
Karen Reed

October 06, 2019

Thank you for your commitment!

Candace Welsh
Candace Welsh

October 06, 2019

I very much appreciate all your research and work on our, your consumer’s and our planet’s, behalf. You are a great company with delicous tea and best practices for all. Thank you!

Thomas M. Huber
Thomas M. Huber

October 06, 2019

I trust Harney and Sons.
I am sure you will use a material that is both safe and convenient.

Oscar serrano
Oscar serrano

October 06, 2019

Harney is my main tea provider and I have most of the blends in my home.
This method of dealing and following up with a problem is extremely professional and proves that Harney indeed cares about the actual product that is being sold. To some, tea may represent a ridiculous item which you can get over the counter on any supermarket, but to others it is a ritual that represents the fullness of life in a moment of peace. Harney understands that thus the reason I will keep buying and am writing a comment on this page on a saturday evening at a bar.

Laural Chapman
Laural Chapman

October 07, 2019

For years now I have used tea socks I got from Murchie’s in Canada. I love them as they are not only reusable but the socks do not allow the fine particles through that the metal filters do, so more tea is drinkable. They are very usable but only come in 1 size. Would really like to see a variety of sizes appropriate for Cups, travel mugs, etc. I do like your sachets, but also realize that a tea sock that can be used while traveling would be much more environmentally friendly. The tea socks I use are made of cotton.

Jenna C Bove
Jenna C Bove

October 06, 2019

This report makes me extremely happy, not only for the benefit of my body, and of those I love, but also the planet, which I care deeply for. Your company is truly a thoughtful, quality brand that I couldn’t be more proud to continually invest in with my purchases. I love you, Harney & Sons♡

Deborah Fisher
Deborah Fisher

October 06, 2019

Hi Mike, Thank you for your environmental commitment. I have been and will continue to be one of the biggest fans of your tea, your people, and your company.
Debbie

Lisa Staley
Lisa Staley

October 06, 2019

Just another reason for loving your fabulous company! Thank you to your dedication to bringing us the very best in tea!

Katie Robert
Katie Robert

October 06, 2019

Thanks for making this effort. Many of us tea drinkers are not only concerned for our health but also about not adding more plastic to our oceans which seems to be where everything ends up.

Diane Moore
Diane Moore

October 06, 2019

Thank you for caring, and good luck with it. I am a firm believer in that “we are what we eat.” These days with so many foods being GMO, being saturated with Roundup, I only buy Certified Organic foods. I’ve started drinking only Certified Organic LOOSE teas for this reason. What’s the point in buying organic teas if the bags contain things that are bad for us. I have a serious fear of Cancer, and am doing my best to eat and live a healthy lifestyle to avoid it. Thanks for selling excellent teas. I’m a confirmed Tea-a-holic, and drink it all day, every day. (I’m Dutch, have lived in the UK and a few other countries, so appreciate GOOD teas!

Brice Bunner
Brice Bunner

October 07, 2019

I’m wondering for the tag attachment method, whether or not it could be done in the stitching of the side? Like a serger seam that has gone too long, could it simply create a tail that a paper tag could be added to? I love that you’re looking into a change for this. Keep up the great work and thank you for letting us know you’re on this.
Cheers!

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