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It’s a move set to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions around the world and revolutionise the entire tea industry.
As the world’s largest tea company, currently buying around 12% of the world’s entire black tea supply, Unilever is becoming the first-ever business to source all its tea sustainably.
Working with Unilever is Rainforest Alliance, an independent non-governmental organisation concerned with promoting biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods. With a strong track record in sustainable certification, particularly for coffee and fruit, Rainforest Alliance will be responsible for auditing and evaluating the tea farms that supply Unilever against a comprehensive range of sustainability criteria.
Lipton, the world’s best-selling tea, will be among the first to carry the Rainforest Alliance logo, showing that they meet the sustainability criteria. The plan is to have all Lipton Yellow Label tea bags sold in Western Europe certified by 2010 and all Lipton tea bags sold globally by 2015. The first certified tea will be available to restaurants and the catering trade in Europe from August this year.
The wide-ranging criteria for certification include social and environmental issues and will have a tangible impact on quality of life.
“What this means overall is that the producers – up to two million people around the world who are producing Unilever tea – will have an opportunity to improve their water supplies, to protect wildlife, to live in dignified housing, to ensure protection against chemicals, and to really take care of their families – as well as the planet on which we live,” says Tensie Whelan, executive director of Rainforest Alliance.