Yorkshire Tea has announced that it has become carbon neutral following five years of supply chain projects.
Yorkshire Tea, founded more than 40 years ago by Taylors of Harrogate, makes more than five billion teabags per year and exports to over 28 countries.
Its work to achieve carbon neutral status began in 2015 with Natural Capital Partners to verify the volume of carbon emitted by the business both in its UK operations and at every stage of its supply chain, from tea bush to wholesale.
It then worked with TIST (The International Small Group and Tree Planting Programme) to encourage smallholder tea farmers to plant fruit and nut trees around tea gardens. These trees help the environment by soaking up carbon and also provide valuable secondary incomes, along with shade and food for wildlife. So far, this project has helped to plant 1.5 million trees around the Mount Kenya region with 4,000 tea farmers.
The brand is also supporting projects to distribute fuel-efficient stoves to smallholder farmers in Malawi. The project contributes to balancing the carbon footprint by ensuring trees are preserved and so avoids deforestation.
Other carbon emission reduction initiatives include: 100% of gas and electricity at its Harrogate headquarters coming from renewable sources; on-site solar panels which generate enough energy to power 80 UK homes for a year; rainwater collection for flushing toilets; and zero waste to landfill. The company also works with the Kenyan Tea Development Agency to assess energy efficiency in factories and find way to make savings.
To celebrate the achievement, the brand is releasing a video featuring its illustrator painting a carbon neutral version of the Yorkshire Tea pack artwork. The carbon neutral logo now appears on most Yorkshire Tea products and will be appearing on Taylors of Harrogate coffee products, which are also carbon neutral.
Simon Hotchkin, head of sustainable development at Taylors of Harrogate, said: "We're proud to have achieved carbon neutrality across all our products, but we're especially proud of the proper way in which we've done it, by setting up projects that not only offset carbon but improve lives and livelihoods directly with our farmers.
"We could easily have bought carbon credits from existing programmes, but we decided to create new projects that would provide long-term benefits to tea producers.
"We're passionate about making a positive difference in the world and this milestone is one of many we have in our sights – we are far from done!"
Tom Popple, senior manager climate change and sustainability, from Natural Capital Partners, added: "Taylors is setting a new benchmark for how to make carbon neutral programmes really deliver value, both to the business, but also to build resilience for some of the communities around the world who are most impacted by climate change yet least responsible.
"This type of climate finance programme is critical in the toolkit of solutions to meet our global climate goals, transform our global economy and deliver on sustainable development goals."