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Tata, Unilever Steer Tea Sustainability Project

Tata Global Beverages, Unilever, Yorkshire Tea and Finlays, along with several organizations from across the tea value chain, have launched the second phase of Tea 2030, a project aimed at developing sustainability innovations to help secure the industry’s long-term future.

Tea 2030 will also include the Ethical Tea Partnership, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International and the International Tea Committee, and will be managed by sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future.

About 130,000 metric tons of tea are consumed per year, 95 percent of it in tea bags. This makes it the world’s most consumed beverage after water, Tea 2030 organizers said. Tea is produced in 35 countries and provides a vital source of employment, often in some of the world’s poorest areas.

However, the tea industry is threatened by a host of challenges, from climate change and increased demand for energy and water to competition for land use and rapidly changing markets for tea, said Tea 2030 organizers.

In the second phase of Tea 2030, stakeholders from across the value chain, including tea production and disposal, will collaborate to create a set of scenarios that explore certain and uncertain trends affecting the sector’s future. The stakeholders will help identify risks and opportunities. The group also will develop a set of collaborative innovation platforms, which will be launched at the end of this phase in September 2013, to start tackling those challenges.

The first phase of the project, which ran in 2011 with support from Unilever and Finlays, found that while initiatives exist to address some of these issues, many challenges remain to be solved. The partners determined that a sustainable future for tea requires wider collaboration, long-term thinking, innovation and a systems approach.

Forum for the Future, along with the World Wildlife Fund, also manages the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, a global coalition of companies that pledge to improve the shipping industry’s environmental impacts through a broad range of goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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