Green Tourism withdraws support for The Rainforest Alliance after BBC report

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tea

Green Tourism withdraws support for The Rainforest Alliance after BBC report
Green Tourism - the environmental accreditation body for the hospitality industry - is withdrawing its support for The Rainforest Alliance after a BBC report found ‘digusting and degrading’ working conditions at a tea plantation endorsed by the brand.

The UK-based group said it will no longer give hospitality businesses credit towards their environmentally friendly assessments for using products such as PG Tips, Tetleys and Twinings tea - which carry the Rainforest Alliance’s frog symbol.

Assessors will now only count certifications by groups such as the Forestry Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council and the Fair Trade Foundation.

The move follows an undercover report​ which discovered tea plantation workers living in crumbling houses without proper sanitation in a number of Rainforest Alliance accredited sites in Assam, India.

Jon Proctor, chief executive for Green Tourism, said: “We are seriously concerned by the state of the operations which have been given 'ethical' labelling under the Rainforest Alliance and believe the organisation’s poor auditing practices have undermined much of the good work done by other eco labels.”

The Rainforest Alliance said that it was taking the BBC’s claims ‘seriously’ and would be launching an investigation in to the issue.

It claimed that any farms which were found to violate its standards would face ‘further action’ and risk losing Rainforest Alliance certification.

A statement on the group’s website said: “The tea sector in Assam, including the farms visited by the BBC, has suffered from severe pressure on costs of production in recent years, caused by low world tea prices coupled with low local tea production as a result of drought, severe pest infestations and periodic flooding. We are working with the tea industry and estates to find solutions that are economically viable while significantly improving conditions on farms.”

Green Tourism said it will be monitoring the Rainforest Alliance's progress with the aim of reinstating the brand when it is satisfied standards have improved.

"We hope that the Rainforest Alliance will invest in effective training and establishing robust systems to ensure their label can be trusted once again,” said Proctor.

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