Carbon Neutral Tea and CoffeeOur Coffee bags are now a Carbon Neutral product

All our tea and coffee is carbon neutral – but what does that actually mean? Here’s an explanation of how we’ve lowered our carbon footprint, and the three projects in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda which have reduced the emissions of our products to zero.

The products we make are responsible for emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at every stage of their life – from the farm that grows the tea and coffee, to the ship that brings it to the UK, to us turning the lights on in Harrogate and finally delivering products to your shop.

So, we’ve worked with independent experts to measure how much greenhouse gas our products are responsible for – our product carbon footprint. We made a commitment in 2015 to achieving a Net Zero carbon footprint, meaning that we reduce our footprint as much as possible and then make sure we remove what’s left from the atmosphere.

Over the last few years, we’ve switched to 100% renewable gas and electricity in our Harrogate manufacturing operations, installed solar panels across our factory roof and made sure zero waste goes to landfill. We’ve also cut the road miles of our tea and coffee in the UK by changing the port it arrives at. Overseas, we’ve been working with our suppliers to improve their energy efficiency and switch them to renewable energy sources.

It’s made our tea and coffee’s carbon footprint smaller, but it hasn’t reduced it to zero.

To do that, we’ve started projects that directly support some of the most important tea and coffee farmers we source from – reducing the emissions of our products to zero whilst improving the livelihoods, health and environment of our farming communities.

The projects we’ve built are in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda, and they involve either planting trees which suck carbon out of the atmosphere or reducing the number of trees that are cut down and burned as fuel, so avoiding carbon emissions.

We’re investing in cookstoves project on Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda with coffee farmers who we source from. Here we aim to establish community-based stove manufacturing enterprises, with the aim of creating local employment and distributing around 70,000 stoves. Again, our farmers will benefit directly from the project and we hope your coffee will too!

We’re helping nearly 4,000 smallholder tea farmers around Mount Kenya to plant one million new trees in four communities: Makomboki, Ngere, Imenti and Kionyo. We are working with TIST (The International Small Group Tree Planting Program) and the Kenya Tea Development Agency on this project.

The tea farmers sign up voluntarily to plant trees on their land, and they’re encouraged to grow trees that provide essential benefits to their farms – things like additional cash crops (mango, avocado and macadamia) native tree species that provide shade and wind protection, trees they can prune to feed to cattle, or trees that provide soil nutrients or mulch for other crops.

They’re also given training on conservation farming techniques that increase crop yields so they can produce more food, plus training on socio-economic issues like water purification, gender empowerment, health and hygiene, climate change and biodiversity protection.

This is a long-term project – Taylors will be supporting for 11 years initially and the farmers commit to looking after the trees for at least 30 years – but it’s a real commitment to doing things properly.

Mount Mulanje, in Malawi’s southern tea-growing belt, was once covered in dense forest. Population pressure and the need for domestic firewood for cooking and heating has resulted in huge levels of forest depletion within living memory. This deforestation releases carbon back into the atmosphere and contributes to both local changes in weather patterns (particularly rainfall) and the global climate change phenomena.

To help combat this we’re working with the Ethical Tea Partnership, United Purpose and other tea companies to help make around 15,000 improved cookstoves available to smallholder tea farmers in the Mulanje and Thyolo districts. The stoves are much more efficient than indoor fires, which lowers the amount of wood needed, in turn decreasing the pressure on forests for firewood. They also provide benefits to farmers in that the cost of fuel is significantly reduced, the time spent gathering wood is minimised and they produce less smoke resulting in improved health – particularly for women.

The carbon reductions from these projects are measured and checked by an independent organisation to make sure all the calculations are right. The partners we’re working with register their work to meet a credible and robust carbon standard, so we can track what volume of greenhouse gas has been reduced or avoided. There’s then an independent validation and verification of the project, and carbon credits are issued which we count against our own carbon footprint. They’re then “retired”, which means those carbon credits can’t be sold or traded again by anyone else.

All of this has helped us to reach CarbonNeutral® Product certification. What that means is that we’ve measured and reduced the total greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, in line with The CarbonNeutral Protocol – the global standard for carbon neutral programmes.

It’s a big step beyond simply becoming a carbon neutral business, because it guarantees something much bigger in scope. It means that every pack of tea and coffee we make has a total carbon footprint of zero – taking in all the stages of its life from the fields of South and Central America, Africa and Asia to the shelves of your local shop.

Written byTom Hay

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