Spent Tea Leaves


To identify the processes and uses of spent tea leaves (STL) and the companies involved in using spent tea leaves in the Southeast United States for the purposes of assisting a manufacturer reduce its costs related to dumping STL in a landfill.

Early Findings

Preliminary research indicates there are few, if any, companies that use spent tea leaves on a large-scale basis for anything other than composting. The following uses of spent tea leaves were located during early research, along with two companies in Southeastern U.S. that would likely reclaim STL for composting purposes.


  • Most uses of spent tea leaves (STL) are geared toward individual tea drinkers and center around fertilizing, cleaning, deodorizing, and decorating.
  • Other novel ideas for using STL include reducing room humidity, relieving pain from burns and scratches, and to freshen breath.
  • STL can also be used to reduce swelling, particularly around the eyes.
  • A research study published in 2014 discussed the use of STL for animal feed in an effort to "replace soybean meals and alfalfa hay in a mixed diet."
  • The study concluded that "The use of STL to feed ruminants is encouraging for a zero waste agricultural system, safer environment, and feed cost efficiency."
  • Another study on STL suggested they could be a "source of natural polyphenols, because it might contain residual phenolic compounds that have not been completely extracted from the tea leaves during the brewing process." Polyphenols are thought to "improve or help treat digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases."
  • Yet another study showed that STL can be used as a "novel adsorbent," that can be effective in "removing heavy metals from synthetic wastewater."


  • No companies in the Southeast United States specifically state they reclaim spent tea leaves.
  • However, there are some that may provide this service, including Atlas Organics, which is located in South Carolina (and also operates in Tennessee).
  • As part of its services, Atlas Organics "currently offers food waste collection for Upstate and Midlands, SC, Western, NC and Eastern TN. [The company] also proudly serve both the public and private sectors including clients in the fields of Education, Healthcare, Grocery, Manufacturing, Hospitality, and other private businesses. [It has] commercial and industrial hauling capabilities."
  • McGill, located in North Carolina, also offers food waste composting and works with "global food processors and supermarket chains to employee cafeterias and local restaurants."
  • For high-volume generators, McGill offers "hauling services in tractor-trailers and roll-off boxes (minimum tonnage fees apply)."
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address your goals.

Proposed next steps:

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