Tea waste


Made in

Biodegradable 232 Bioplastic 78 Plant-based 168 Recycled 123 Glycerine 36 Starch 2 Tea waste 3 Vinegar 15 Water 30

Tea waste

Photos: Katherine Lopez


The goal of 'Matearial' is to find a way for people to take responsibility for the care and handling of plants. To this end, it was searched for new ways to produce our own resources that could be integrated into natural processes, such as the withering and dying of certain plants. And that in turn, could contribute to the forming of a circular chain of consumption, where the natural remains are used for the development of new products.

Due to the culture of tea consumption in Germany, the designer was decided to opt for this resource as the basis for the creation of biomaterials. After researching the varieties of tea most consumed in the region, three types were chosen: chamomile, sage and peppermint. All of them are consumed throughout the year, which ensures that large quantities of tea waste can be collected, necessary not only for the production of such material but also for the experimental process.

A recipe was developed to create a biomaterial, which is composed of starch, vinegar, glycerin and distilled water. These ingredients are mixed, lightly cooked until a homogeneous mass is formed and placed in an oven at 150° for 30 minutes. As a result, 3 types of 100% biodegradable materials are obtained, each one corresponding to the types of tea chosen. All have similar properties based on good resistance, hardness, the possibility of being modelled, like clay, before being taken to the oven and later, sanded and finished.

It is also noted that it is possible to give it water resistance by means of a layer of bioresin, which does not prevent the degradation process of the material. Likewise, each material has a unique aesthetic, with colours, textures and smells that refer to the type of tea used as a base. With respect to the application of this material, these characteristics are taken into account to ensure its use in jewellery, packaging, toys, home decor, craft and model building, and in combination with bioresin for furniture, footwear and kitchen utensils.

Additionally, in this project, the material has been subjected to various extrusion and moulding tests, either as solid blocks, as well as circular and square profiles. The following results were obtained:

- It was possible to test the extrusion capacity of the material not only in regular thicknesses but also in thin ones. Also, since the material is extruded when it is still wet, it has the ability to be easily joined through contact between surfaces. For this reason, its use is proposed even as a base material for 3D printing of objects and structures, generating patterns that can provide resistance but with the advantage of being lighter and biodegradable.

- Regarding the moulding test, it is suggested to use a system of aluminium or stainless steel pressure moulds, both for placement in the oven and for proper drying after baking. Silicone moulds are also useful but do not guarantee uniform drying of the material. However, cardboard moulds allow faster and equally uniform drying than metal moulds.

Additional information

As a first step, the tea residues are dried either naturally or by means of an oven. When they are completely dehydrated they are ground into a powder. Then all the ingredients are mixed and cooked at a medium temperature, stirred until a doughy mass is obtained. It is then moulded into the desired shape and baked in the oven at 150 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.


Tea waste, water, glycerine, starch, vinegar

Physical samples

0047-1, 0047-2, 0047-3
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab