The Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) was set up in 1997 by a group of British tea-packing companies. The ETP is essentially the “Fairtrade” movement of the tea industry. Coffee is a publicly traded commodity but tea is not. This means the Fairtrade rules don’t apply to tea and there was a need for a disparate system of authority. The ETP was born out of this need for a system to oversee the tea industry and ensure it was operating ethically.
What’s the difference between Fairtrade and ETP?
Fairtrade and ETP, although similar, have different primary goals. Fairtrade seeks to ensure stable profits for local producers. ETP is primarily concerned with the social and environmental aspects of the tea industry. In many instances, prioritizing the economic model can leave room for unsavory practices, environmental harm, or social injustice.
Tea farmers who join the Fairtrade Foundation are required to pay a membership fee, the ETP however, is free to producers and funded solely by its members.
What is ETP’s mission statement and/or goals?
ETP has a mission to create a shared responsibility for higher standards and social responsibility when it comes to the production, packing, and supplying of tea. The organization strives to guarantee distributors receive their product from ethical producers.
In their own words:
“We’re creating a fairer, better, more sustainable tea industry for tea workers, farmers, and the environment.”
What qualifies a producer as ethical?
An ethical producer is one that complies fully to local legislation as well as union agreements that outline conditions of employment, health, safety, maternity, housing on estates, education, and basic human rights.
Why does this matter?
Non profit organizations like ETP exist to improve the sustainability of tea as well as the lives and livelihoods of tea workers. Tea is internationally enjoyed and should be monitored in order to maintain high standards. Monitoring producers of tea can also guard against the exploitation of tea workers. Behind every cup of tea there is a process and a story. The efforts of organizations like this one makes sure it is a positive one.