Our Sustainability Commitments – Article
Red Rose is committed to sourcing all of its tea sustainably. It’s a huge task that requires us to look at the social, economic and environmental aspects of tea production. These are the three commitments that help to guide our efforts:
Passion for the Leaf
The best leaf comes from the best plantation. In order to give you the best possible leaf, we believe it is important to care for the environment in which it is grown to protect its vitality, and to harness the goodness of the remarkable tea bush.
Committing to Sustainable Policies
Tea has been grown on the Unilever Tea Kenya (UTK) estates in Kericho for 80 years. UTK’s current and future projects reflect this historical commitment. We realize that complete social, environmental and economical sustainability cannot be achieved overnight. Given the scope of this ambition we have to take a step-by-step approach.
As a first step, we have collaborated with the Rainforest Alliance to certify the Tea Gardens in Kericho, Kenya to the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ standards. The Rainforest Alliance is an independent NGO that works with individuals, communities and companies whose livelihoods depend on the land to reduce environmental impacts and increase social and economic benefits. The Rainforest Alliance takes a holistic approach in assessment and certification, verifying that standards and practices are ethical and equitable, environmentally sound and economically viable. Since we buy tea from other suppliers as well, we urge them to become certified too.
We intend to source all our tea bags globally from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ plantations by 2015.
Love for the people
People play a vital role in sustainable agriculture, whether they form part of the workforce, the government or the local community. Healthy, well educated people are assets to growers and vital for the sustainable development of a nation. UTK Limited provides some 17,000 jobs, making it probably the largest single employer in Kenya’s private sector.
Safety at Work
In order to maintain very high levels of safety at work, we run an on-going training program for all employees. These training programs are aimed at reducing or preventing the risk of accidents or occupational disease in the workplace.
Conclusive proof of the training and communications systems’ efficiency was demonstrated recently when every single Kericho Tea Garden worker interviewed by the Rainforest Alliance was able to correctly explain the procedures to prevent accidents and occupational diseases.
Respect for the Environment
We’ve been in the business long enough to know that nature is our greatest asset. Without providing the conditions for sustainable agriculture, we know we’d lose that asset. That’s why we take our water and energy supplies so seriously. It’s also why we go to such great lengths to conserve biodiversity on our estates.
We endeavour to ecologically recycle waste from our production site.
In Kericho in Kenya, measures have been taken to collect and sort the waste from the housing areas. Recyclable wastes e.g. plastics are taken by an agent for recycling. Waste from tea factories comes exclusively from the tea produced and so is put back into the land where it is used as organic fertilizer.
Conserving Ecosystems and Protecting Wildlife
We consider it a duty not only to protect natural ecosystems but also to bring balance back to damaged ones. We grow our tea with the utmost respect for local wildlife and biodiversity.
In Kericho, UTK owns a lush indigenous forest that borders the Kiptetan River. We contribute to the protection of this natural habitat and its biodiversity by planting over 69 different native species of tree in our reforesting program named “Tree 2000 Program”. By August 2007, UTK had planted half a million trees! A UTK employee helps take care of the monkeys that roam freely here, such as the Vervet. Thanks to these actions, the forest is home to endangered species such as the Colobus monkey.
Saving water resources
UTK keeps to the natural rain cycle, thereby avoiding irrigation.
Due to its proximity to Lake Victoria, the tea garden of Kericho benefits from the natural cloud formation caused by evaporation of the lakes waters. These clouds provide all the rainfall the tea garden needs.
In order to help preserve this precious natural cycle of rainfall, we are working to preserve and reforest riparian strips bordering the rivers in its tea gardens. This contributes to preserving the natural percolation of water into the rivers which flow into Lake Victoria.