Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about our partnership with Rainforest Alliance:
Q: Why can't you certify everything at once?
A: Lipton® is the world's number 1 tea brand; we sell more tea than any other company. Because our tea is blended for consistency, a single bag of Lipton® Yellow Label may contain more than 20 different kinds of tea from a number of plantations and countries. Given the scope of our ambition, we have to take a step-by-step approach.
Q: Are you thinking of having only your own estates certified?
A: We are committed to sourcing all our tea sustainably. We're starting with certification of our own estates because we think it’s only fair that before asking our suppliers to get certified, we certify our own plantations. We have a long history of developing and employing sustainable methods, and the Lipton® Tea Gardens in Kericho, Kenya hold a distinguished record.
Q: You are starting with certification of tea going to Western European markets. What are your plans and timeframes for launching certified tea in your other markets?
A: We will start in Western Europe but will roll out to other regions as soon as enough certified tea leaves are available. We intend to extend certification to all Lipton® tea bags sold globally by 2015.
Q: Why are you not just using Fairtrade tea?
A: We explored all the possibilities for certification of our tea supply and evaluated the programs based on a number of criteria, including certification standards, consumer understanding, availability of volumes and more. We think Fairtrade is a sound and valuable certification system that plays an important role in promoting sustainable commodity sourcing. But after careful consideration, we decided that Rainforest Alliance’s approach was the most appropriate for us – mostly because of its comprehensive nature, as it addresses the social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainability, and its experience in converting crops like tea that depend on larger plantations.
Rainforest Alliance's standards cover the full range of worker protection issues including the right to organize; the right to a safe, clean working environment; the right to be paid at least the national minimum wage; dignified housing, including potable water; access to medical care for workers and their families and access to free education for children.
Lipton's® own Sustainable Agriculture program, which we have employed since 1999, is a close match to the Rainforest Alliance's approach.
Q. What will change in the taste of my cup of tea once it gets certified?
A: Nothing will change. We take great care to make sure that the same high quality and taste is delivered consistently to our consumers. We have asked our main suppliers to become certified by the Rainforest Alliance to ensure that we will be buying the same high quality tea we buy now.
Q: Are you just launching one certified niche product?
A: We are not just launching one niche product. We have been committed to sustainability for many years and believe it is a measure of our commitment that we intend to have the entire Lipton’s® tea supply certified.
Q. Is the price of my pack of Lipton® going to be higher because of certification?
A: No, we don’t intend to charge consumers for our commitment to sustainability.
Q: What are you doing for the small farmers?
A: We have been working for a number of years to support small producers in Kenya through our sustainable agriculture program and projects involving small scale farmers. For example, in 2006, we entered into a partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development and the Kenya Tea Development Agency to communicate our tea sustainability guidelines to 450,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya through farmer field schools. We will ask these producers to become certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Experience on other crops like coffee has shown that producers are able to realize a 10 to 15% premium for certified goods. Rainforest Alliance certification has also helped them run their farms more efficiently in many cases.
Q: You are asking your current suppliers to become certified - if this is the case, how independent can the Rainforest Alliance really be?
A: To clarify, if tea growers do not meet the standards, they will not be certified. Rainforest Alliance is an independent, international non-profit organization working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. Their funding and operating processes are transparent and clear. Their standards are developed in compliance with the ISEAL Alliance Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards. The standards and criteria are developed with active stakeholder involvement through a public consultation process.
For more information, please see: http://www.rainforest-alliance.org
Q: What about packaging? Why are you not using recycled paper for your packs?
A: This is not always possible. For example, European regulations do not generally permit the use of recycled board or paper where the packaging is in direct contact with foodstuffs. However, over 80% of the packaging for Lipton® Yellow Label in Western Europe is created from renewable sources, and of this, approximately 65% is already from sustainable sources. The two main independent third party bodies that have certified our major sources of sustainable packaging are PEFC (Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). We are investigating how we can increase this percentage of sustainably and certified sources over time.