We’re pleased to announce we are officially now a carbon neutral tea company. As of February 2022, JING and our teas are certified carbon neutral by Climate Partner.
Basically, that means we’ve measured our carbon footprint – for both our company and our teas – and have pledged to reduce it and offset it.
We’ve done this because the world is in a climate emergency and we want to take responsibility for our part in that. By calculating exactly where greenhouse gases we produced throughout our tea supply chain, as well as in the running of our company, we can begin ambitious, targeted action to reduce our emissions. A significant proportion of those emissions come from the production of our teas, so we’ll be working closely with our partner producers to find solutions.
We have close relationships with all of the producers we buy from, but it will take time to stop all avoidable emissions and minimise all unavoidable ones, by doing things such as changing their energy sources. That’s why we are also pursuing a carbon offset plan in parallel. This means we will aim to remove from the atmosphere as many greenhouse gases as we put there from today onwards. Because we want to do something that’s relevant to our tea-producing communities, we have chosen a Gold Standard social impact project in India (more on that below).
As soon as possible, we hope to reach our ultimate goal: net zero. That would mean we have minimised all of our emissions and are only offsetting where absolutely necessary. As this will take some time to achieve, we have chosen to offset all emissions in the meantime, to take action straight away. Offsetting is not an excuse to delay the necessary reduction strategy, we are doing both in parallel.
How have we measured our carbon footprint?
We know growing and sharing our single garden teas releases greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere. We also know those gases contribute to climate change. But calculating exact figures and working out every way in which a business like ours produces greenhouse gases can be tricky. That’s why we chose the independent experts at ClimatePartner to help us.
Together we’ve looked at the lifecycle of our teas: from their beginnings in tea gardens around Asia to the moment our customers dispose of them wherever that might be. It’s a ‘cradle to customer’ approach that includes waste.
There’s only one phase of the cycle we didn’t look at: the ‘use’ phase, which includes things like customers boiling their kettles. That’s simply because it would currently be almost impossible to accurately calculate the carbon produced by our customers, given the many ways they might heat their water, particularly in the hotels and restaurants we work with. (Some of our customers such as hotels already have their own carbon reduction schemes and are tackling the cost of the ‘boil’ themselves.)
Apart from that, we’ve factored everything in and, as a result, have been able to identify the carbon ‘hotspots’ we need to work on.
The total footprint of our teas worked out to be 156 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year – that’s the same as the annual output of 22 average global citizens. The majority of our footprint comes from the production of our teas (up to 95%) where the big issue is the heat that’s needed to dry the tea leaves. This is an issue we can’t solve alone, which is why we will collaborate with our producers, share knowledge and encourage the use of renewable heat sources wherever we can.
Away from our tea products, we also wanted to understand our footprint as a business. Because we are a small company with none of our own production sites or warehousing, our corporate carbon footprint was relatively low at around 9 tonnes of CO2 a year – that’s about the same annual amount as one person.
What happens next?
Now that we know our hotspots, we can start to reduce our footprint in more focused ways. For example, on the business side, our office is already powered by 100% renewable electricity, but we are going to look for better alternatives to the gas boiler that currently provides our heating.
Our guide for making these changes is the UN’s ‘SME Climate Commitment’ framework, which provides the latest science and toolkits to keep SMEs like us on an ambitious reduction path.
Minimising our carbon footprint in this way will not happen immediately. It will also not be possible to completely eradicate it. That’s why we are also offsetting our carbon footprint. To compensate for ongoing emissions, we are committing to Gold Standard projects that are relevant to the places and communities we source our teas from.
More than 700 million people in India cook over open fires that produce large amounts of carbon dioxide. The project we are working with gives microcredits to people to buy more efficient cookstoves, as well as solar lights to replace more expensive paraffin lamps that are used for illumination but regularly cause fires.
With our reduction initiatives in the pipeline, and consecutive offsetting projects, we are delighted to become a carbon neutral tea company.
Check back in soon to find out how we’re getting on.
Find out exactly what carbon offsetting is – and why we chose Gold Standard – here.