Green tea that’s really green

By September 23, 2014Food

Green tea can now truly live up to its name, with the launch of a new sustainability rating initiative for coffee shops and cafés.

According to Business Green the standard has been developed by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), which already rates 4,000 restaurants ranging from Michelin-starred eateries to fish and chip shops against a wide range of criteria, with particular focus on their sourcing policies and environmental impacts.

The new sustainability rating for coffee shops and cafés has been developed in partnership with Costa, the UK’s largest coffee chain, and places a greater emphasis on the provenance of beverages, including milk as well as tea and coffee, and the high volume of disposable items typically used in cafés. In addition, the criteria cover establishments’ healthy eating efforts, such as green tea, in a bid to reflect the fact that a large proportion of the sales are from repeat customers and as such they can have a significant influence on people’s diets.

According to the SRA, 800,000 people visit cafés at least four times a week meaning any sustainability improvements delivered across the sector could have a sizeable impact.

Alongside assessing cafés’ environmental impacts, the rating scheme will also score businesses based on how they treat staff and support the local community, resulting in an overall rating ranging from one star for a score of at least 50%, to three stars for outlets meeting at least 70% of the criteria.

While the new rating has initially been developed for chains, a tailored version is expected to be available for independent coffee shops and cafés in the near future.

Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, said the intention was to “drive up sustainability standards” across the UK’s 10,000 cafés by encouraging green best practices that extend beyond simply sourcing sustainably certified coffee or Fairtrade tea. “By going beyond the [coffee] beans, we’re finally enabling cafés to demonstrate the breadth of their credentials,” he added.

Michael Bennett of environmental PR specialist Pelican commented: “A number of pieces of research demonstrate consumers are increasingly concerned by issues such as sustainability so it’s great to see the SRA taking positive steps to respond.”

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