Twinings Tea ultimately aims to improve social conditions across the tea industry and be the catalyst for systemic change through its Sourced with Care Program. The tea company elaborated on its efforts in the Twinings Social Impact Report 2016.
Twinings sources its tea internationally from plantations and small farms in various countries, including China, India, Kenya and Argentina. The 311-year-old tea company does not own any plantations. Maintaining certain human rights and environmental standards on a global scale can be a challenge, but Twinings is committed to only sourcing from suppliers that meet internationally recognized social and environmental specifications by the year 2020.
Here are some ways Twinings Tea works to improve tea industry practices.
- Twenty years ago, Twinings was a founding partner of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which brought
tea-buying companies together to improve tea workers’ lives. The Ethical Tea Partnership oversees projects addressing workers’ rights and tea estates’ living conditions and provides training on factory safety and environmental management.
- Twinings has partnered with Save the Children in China’s Yunnan province for more than 12 years. The project provides training to rural health care providers. The training covers vaccinations, breastfeeding, and how to identify and treat childhood illnesses. This program enables health care providers to give higher quality health care to children and mothers.
- Twinings’ social programs extend to India, too. The company partnered with UNICEF in Assam and with Mercy Corps in Darjeeling. UNICEF and the Assam Branch of the Indian Tea Association formed Adolescent Girls Groups on tea estates. These clubs strive to empower girls who live on the estates by addressing issues of safety, nutrition and education. With Mercy Corps, Twinings provided alternative forms of employment for tea estate workers during the low season. The partnership with Mercy Corps also addresses water sanitation and promotes hygiene awareness.
- Twinings ensures estate, farm and factory conditions meet International Labor Organization
standards and abide by the Modern Slavery Act.
- All Twinings suppliers must sign a code of conduct that forbids forced labor.
- Twinings has third-party auditors conduct supplier audits —on an unannounced or semi-announced basis—that include worker interviews. From October 2014 to September 2016, Twinings’ Sourced with Care Program completed 190 audits.
- Twinings parent company, ABF plc, offers training to UK-based suppliers and contractors about issues of modern slavery. It plans to offer its programs to international suppliers in 2017.
In 2016, the company developed the Twinings Community Needs Assessment (TCNA) and involved the consultation of UNICEF, Conservation International, Water Aid, Solidaridad and others. According to the report, 10 areas are covered in the TCNA: gender, health and nutrition, housing, water and sanitation, children’s rights, land rights, livelihoods, natural resources, farming practices, and working conditions and relations. This assessment connects the company’s Social Impact team with workers and producers so the company can get first-hand information about the needs of specific areas. Thus far, the company has completed assessments in China, India and Sri Lanka. It plans to increase its coverage this year.