22 July 2019

Category: My Wellbeing, Talking Tea, Madura Tea Estate

Sustainability And The Environmental Challenges Of Our Time.

More than ever before, our planet needs companies that are driven not only by their bottom line but also by the positive ethical, environmental practices and sustainability. Our environment is at a tipping point, and proactive action is required. A blueprint for sustainable business principles underpinned by a green mindset should be a top priority for any forward-thinking business.

We are committed to sustainability on a holistic level.

From climate change to recyclability, to health and wellness, through to ethical sourcing and supply chains, we believe we need to hold up a mirror of our core values and principles. While we equally reflect upon every aspect of our operation to the very best of our ability.

Since the planting of Madura’s very first tea plant back in 1978, our mission has always been to create award-winning tea driven by innovation and creativity, with an onus on environmental sustainability. We have never wavered from this ideal, adapting our processes over the years to remain at the forefront of environmental standards.

While we’re proud of our agility and responsiveness when it comes to new research and developments; incorporating and executing them is not without its challenges. One of the biggest dilemmas every small business faces is how to activate environmental initiatives while balancing and weighing time and resources. While some may argue it comes down to “planet vs profit” – the reality is a lot more complicated.

Environmental accountability: working towards a united end goal.

With continuous assessment of our green practices, we’re pleased to say our customers are one of the loudest voices when it comes to accountability. This tells us Madura consumers are speaking our language, and we all want the same end goal!

We receive and respond to many positive aspects of our commitment to sustainability and the environment. We welcome and digest all feedback and make an effort to reply as comprehensively as possible, with the most up-to-date information we have available at the time.

To uphold this transparency, we’ve collated several frequently asked questions, along with many others that may be of interest to our environmentally-conscious customers. Our ‘under one roof’ approach, focusing on the ever-changing landscape of sustainability issues serves as an honest and frank account of our commitment to lead change. As well as highlighting the genuine issues we face when it comes to implementation.

What is Madura doing to protect the eco-system and environment of our plantation?

Our respect for the environment has motivated us to strive to offset our environmental footprint continually.  Over the years, our progressive approach has seen us implement several initiatives designed to promote sustainability and support the precious bionetwork of our estate. For example:

  • Our 250,000 tea bushes cohabit with the vast array of native rainforest trees and shrubs. We have equally planted many more trees and shrubs to preserve the watercourses and protect the fauna and flora that now call our estate home. – apart from the immediate visual appeal of an extensive botanical garden, Madura has created a significant carbon sink for generations to come.
  • We power much of our energy needs naturally through our on-site 99kw solar system. Excess power (approximately 32% of the electricity generated) is fed back into the grid so that our broader community can enjoy the benefits of green energy – reducing carbon emissions.
  • We draw our water from onsite water storage and naturally harvested rainwater.
  • No pesticides are used on our plantation, helping keep the soil as pure as the taste of our tea.
  • With our headquarters and operations located on Australian soil, we lessen our global footprint. By packing at our estate, we avoid the negative increase of global shipping movements, not taking into account the impact on outbound shipping movements. Not many people know that Australia’s second-largest export is empty shipping containers (2017 Report of Victorian Transport Association). Madura has long been instrumental in reducing global carbon emissions by packing in Australia, thus minimising wasteful shipping movements and the related global emissions.
  • We are committed to minimal waste to landfill – our current achievement is less than 0.75 % waste.
  • We encourage consumers to consider their environmental footprint through the promotion of reusable and recyclable items, such as refillable wooden tea boxes, caddies, and market bags.

Does Madura have a clearly defined commitment to sustainability?

Our Sustainability Action Plan 2017-2022 states: “Madura Tea Estates is committed to minimising the impact of our products and operations on the environment. We believe that good environmental management not only makes good business sense, it also meets growing consumer expectation for effective environmental management.”

We remain committed to adopting sustainable practices and proactively trialling new products, such as our ongoing trials of biodegradable and recyclable packaging.

As a company, we’ve pledged to maintain the standards and principles on which Madura built. We also want to inspire people to make healthy choices – not just for themselves, but the environment we live in. It is for this reason that we too will continue to invest in innovative, socially responsible, and positive practices that support our environment and community – this is our commitment.

What is Madura doing to ensure its products are environmentally sustainable and remain free of residual chemicals and bacterial contaminants?

We only use recycled cardboard for our packaging and shipping cartons and FSC-certified paper for other uses in our production cycle. Additionally, we use vegetable-based inks where possible, and our teas are independently tested in Australia to ensure they contain no harmful chemical and bacterial residues.

Does Madura have a timeline for the implementation of innovations for packaging? And what about our current packaging?

Innovations in packaging are happening, but such developments need to be considered in the context of their broader impact on our environment. One such development is a new offering of ‘plastic-free’ compostable filter paper for use in teabag manufacture. Filter paper manufacture is highly specialised manufacture with the result that currently, there are only two major and reputable global suppliers. We have extensively trialled this new product to the point of achieving a satisfactory result. However, the product is significantly more costly than traditional papers. Cost may reduce to a competitive level when the larger, global tea companies accept this new offering of packaging. Instead of adding a polymer to the filter paper, the latest technology adds PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) to the paper to achieve a seal of the teabag during production. The PLA content in the new filter paper is derived from corn starch. Unfortunately, the current source of some of this corn starch is from genetically modified corn. Madura would prefer the PLA be sourced from GM-free plant material before we proceed with the new filter paper. We are aware PLA is now available from sugarcane, which might provide a new path for the sugar industry and an option for the filter paper manufacturers. We look forward to a time when this new product ticks all the boxes.

Does Madura seek to establish working relationships with suppliers and service providers that equally embrace sustainability practices?

Absolutely! Our estate tea is in our benchmark blends. Other blends such as Pure Assam, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, and White Tea require particular tea from specific sources to be true to their origins or tradition.

On these occasions, we partner only with trusted, likeminded estates, who conduct their businesses ethically and who respect the environment.

We’re proud to advise our organic green, and black teas are certified 100% Rainforest Alliance. 90% of our Sri Lankan teas are either certified Rainforest Alliance or ETP (Ethical Tea Partnership), some both.

We have successfully encouraged our overseas tea suppliers to partner with the Farmer Field School program. An initiative that empowers women to take leadership roles in activities they perform both within the tea factory and in the field. The Farmer Field School’s objective is to increase its participants’ overall knowledge base – yielding a two-fold benefit. The up-skilling of female workers, resulting in producing a better product.  Programs such as ‘Farmer Field School’ empower women; by increasing their earning capacity, helping them to fend for themselves and lessen domestic degradation in their community.

All this sounds good, but what else is Madura doing to make positive changes towards the environment and sustainability?

When we reflect on the positive changes we’ve made over the past twenty-four months, we know we’re on the right path. Using a holistic benchmark across our entire Estate, we’re happy to report:

To reduce our carbon footprint and focus on sustainability across all areas:

  • All packing and manufacturing is conducted entirely on-site.
  • Our storage and warehousing is located entirely on-site. By eliminating off-site storage, we have reduced road transport movements and related harmful emissions.
  • We have aligned our factory operating hours to daily sunlight hours to maximise the output of our on-site solar power generation.
  • We use 40-foot containers where possible for our inbound shipping as these are more space-efficient than combinations of smaller containers, thus requiring less annual shipping movements. Ocean sea freight is a huge producer of CO2 emissions.
  • The abundance of birdlife at our estate keeps helps reduce insects and pests, eliminating the need for pesticides.
  • Each stage of production is assessed for its impact on the surrounding environment.
  • The estate eco-system, since 1978 has continued to develop to a point where nature and agriculture are in balance, benefiting each other.
  • By continuing to invest resources into ongoing research and development, we continue to identify, evaluate, and action, business and operational practices that align with global standards of environmental awareness and sustainability.
  • We employ a 100% locally-sourced team; giving back to the community and economy that has welcomed and embraced us since we turned the soil for our very first tea plant. We provide income, stability, education and training, resulting in long-term employees who adopt our sustainable beliefs and practices.
  • Madura remains a supportive, inclusive working environment for women of all ages – over 50% of our team are women.
  • Madura remains 100% Australian owned. We’re family-run, with family values, resulting in quality tea made by Australians for Australians, and when supported by Australians, we build Australia’s wealth.

We understand we still have a long way to go, however, we are genuinely committed to improving our planet’s environment. We look forward to sharing future achievements with you.

Madura Tea – extraordinary tea, for extraordinary people.

If you would like to know more about Madura or our award-winning brews, call (02) 6670 6000

 

 

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