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Sunday May 19th, 2024

Bogawantalawa:Championing Climate-Positive Tea

Michael Haglind(Extreme Left) – Director of Bogawantalawa Teas./ Dr Thusitha Bandara (2nd from Left) – Director of Low Country Operations, Sustainability and R&D – Bogawantalawa Tea Estates/ Margaretha Haglind (4th from Left) – Marketing Manager for Europe, Bogawantalawa Teas

Bogawantalawa Teas sets itself apart with its premium, traceable teas sourced from the renowned Golden Valley and boasting Climate-Neutral certification. Supported by ideal micro-climatic conditions and high elevation, the brand aligns with UN SDG 2030 goals, with sustainability ingrained in its core values and operations, validated by certifications like Climate Positive and Carbon Neutral. These efforts enhance competitiveness and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, explains Almas Marikkar, Director & Chief Executive of Bogawantalawa Tea Ceylon and Dr Thusitha Bandara, Director of Low Country Operations, Sustainability, and R&D of Bogawantalawa Tea Estates.

What differentiates Bogawantalawa from other Ceylon Teas?

Almas Marikkar: Quite simply it is our unmatched value-added offering to the global consumer. While Bogawantalawa guarantees a garden-fresh product sourced directly from the renowned Golden Valley with 100% traceability, our teas are Climate-Neutral certified with 100% in-setting of carbon emissions right up to the shelf. Along with the Perfect Micro-Climatic conditions and the ideal elevation of 4,000 – 6,000 ft which yields the finest high-grown Ceylon tea leaf with unmatched character, our brand is compliant with UN SDG 2030 well in advance.

How do the Sustainability initiatives at Bogawantalawa add to your competitive advantage?

Almas Marikkar: Over the years we have fast become the world’s go-to destination for quality Ceylon Tea in keeping with ethical manufacturing processes. In addition to this global reputation, we have also been blessed with numerous international accolades, all of which have seen us being celebrated as the World’s First Climate-Positive Tea Company. These are not just significant achievements in how we manage our carbon footprint, they also add to our competitive edge in the global market. The combined expertise of our Tea Masters with their specialized know-how, product innovation, a resilient and efficient supply chain and a dynamic team is a collective advantage in this regard. 

How do you see your consumers benefitting from your turnkey solution?

Almas Marikkar: It is simply a matter of trust and credibility which we have built over the years. 

Our offering goes beyond single-origin Ceylon Teas. Our wide range of teas goes beyond Black and Green Teas and includes flavoured and herbal teas that are catered to the discerning purveyor. Supplying to the global market we have the exclusive Bogawantalawa Premium and Ceylon Tea Gardens collections, and we are the trusted partner and total solutions provider to top-league high-end brands around the world.

Besides our esteemed clientele having the opportunity to experience our value-added range in keeping with their tailor-made requirements, we also carry out in-depth market and competitor research for them. All this makes Bogawantalawa the one-stop destination for all-round Ceylon Teas.

Why is sustainability important to Bogawantalawa Teas and how would you describe the ethos that influences your core strategy with Sustainability principles?

Dr Thusitha Bandara: Bogawantalawa Teas is deeply committed to sustainability, ingraining it into our core values and operations. This commitment spans social, environmental, and economic responsibilities, aligning with the Triple Bottom Line framework. Our Sustainability Policy guides us in all aspects, from cultivation to marketing, extending this ethos to all stakeholders.

By integrating sustainability into our operations, we foster continual improvement and aim to lead positive change in the tea industry and communities we serve. Supported by 45 Impact Drivers and 135 Key Performance Indicators, we track measurable progress towards our sustainability goals.

Our responsibility extends to employees, associates, and collaborators. Leveraging sustainability initiatives, we enhance our competitiveness and reputation, meeting the preferences of environmentally conscious consumers. Certifications like Climate Positive, Rainforest Alliance, and Fairtrade validate our commitment.

In summary, Bogawantalawa’s dedication to sustainability safeguards our business interests and solidifies our role as a responsible corporate citizen, prioritizing the welfare of our planet and its inhabitants.

Can you take us through your recent sustainability initiatives and their broader impacts externally and on the company’s performance?

Dr Thusitha Bandara: Bogawantalawa Tea Estates has undertaken impactful sustainability initiatives, showcasing unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship, social accountability, and ethical governance. These efforts include integrating renewable energy sources like hydro and solar power, practising meticulous energy management, adopting regenerative agriculture techniques, implementing efficient waste and water management, conserving biodiversity, and utilizing integrated nutrient management systems and Climate Smart Agriculture practices.

Beyond internal efforts, Bogawantalawa Tea Estates actively engages in national sustainability programmes and collaborates with governmental bodies to contribute to broader initiatives. These partnerships demonstrate our commitment to a collective approach to sustainability, extending our positive influence beyond our operations. Externally, our sustainability endeavours have attracted commendation from stakeholders, drawing socially responsible investors and fostering alliances with like-minded organizations. Aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we contribute to sustainable tea plantation management.

Internally, these sustainability initiatives have transformed our company’s performance, leading to tangible benefits such as improved operational efficiency, cost reduction, and a positive work environment. Our commitment has also boosted employee satisfaction, retention, and overall productivity, reinforcing our long-term resilience and competitiveness. By prioritizing environmental preservation, social welfare, and ethical governance, Bogawantalawa Tea Estates has emerged as a leader in sustainability within the tea industry. As we continue on this journey, we remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing sustainability and driving meaningful change.

Almas Marikkar-Director and Chief Executive, Bogawantalawa Tea Ceylon/Dr Thusitha Bandara Director of Low Country Operations, Sustainability and R&D – Bogawantalawa Tea Estates

 How have the Sustainability initiatives given you an edge in the market?

Dr Thusitha Bandara: Bogawantalawa’s sustainability initiatives have firmly established us as a leader in the market. As the first tea enterprise worldwide to introduce Uncompensated Climate Positive Teas, certified for 100% renewable sourcing, we’ve set a precedent, showcasing our brand as an industry innovator. This milestone highlights our steadfast commitment to providing sustainable teas while maintaining responsible production and consumption practices.

Our dedication to sustainability resonates with consumers and stakeholders, especially those prioritizing environmental preservation, social accountability, and ethical governance. Through pioneering initiatives like producing carbon-neutral teas and implementing sustainable agricultural practices, we’ve not only reduced our carbon footprint but also attracted environmentally conscious consumers.

Furthermore, our focus on social responsibility and adherence to rigorous international standards, such as ISO, Rainforest Alliance, and USDA certifications, enhance consumer trust and loyalty. Overall, our sustainability-driven approach sets us apart, building a positive brand image, fostering consumer loyalty, and strengthening our long-term competitiveness and resilience in a dynamic market landscape.

 How do you align stakeholders, within and outside the group to your focus on sustainability?

Dr Thusitha Bandara: At Bogawantalawa, we prioritize aligning internal and external stakeholders with our sustainability goals through extensive engagement and collaborative strategies. Internally, we foster a culture of sustainability by involving employees at all levels in discussions, decision-making, and training related to our sustainability efforts. Each department has specific responsibilities and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure clear accountability and alignment with our targets.

Externally, we engage proactively with suppliers, customers, investors, and local communities through partnerships, forums, and transparent reporting. We monitor suppliers and service providers using established KPIs and educate them on sustainable practices to promote sustainability throughout our supply chain.

Through open dialogue, feedback solicitation, and transparent reporting, we aim to build trust and credibility while integrating stakeholder insights into our sustainability strategies. These inclusive approaches foster a collective commitment to sustainability across our ecosystem, driving positive change and nurturing enduring relationships based on shared values.

Bogawantalawa is committed to leading sustainable business practices, inspiring stakeholders to join us in creating a more sustainable future for all.

Best Exporter of the Year, Presidential Export Awards 2023

Bogawantalawa Teas recently acquired the Climate Positive and Carbon Neutral certifications. What is the significance and what does it mean for the company?

Dr Thusitha Bandara: Acquiring climate-positive and carbon-neutral certifications signifies a pivotal moment in Bogawantalawa Teas’ sustainability journey, reaffirming our steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship and responsible business practices. Achieving Climate Positive status showcases our proactive efforts in minimizing our carbon footprint, setting a high standard within the tea industry and demonstrating our dedication to mitigating climate change. Similarly, obtaining Carbon Neutral status underscores our commitment to offsetting unavoidable emissions, further establishing us as a leader in sustainable tea production.

Through investments in carbon in-setting initiatives like renewable energy, agroforestry, and soil carbon enhancement, Bogawantalawa not only reduces its carbon footprint but also contributes to environmental conservation, biodiversity preservation, and community development. These certifications significantly bolster our credibility and reputation, instilling confidence in our customers, stakeholders, and partners regarding our environmental responsibility.

These certifications hold immense significance for our company, opening up new market opportunities by appealing to eco-conscious consumers seeking ethically produced and climate-neutral tea products. Our involvement in in-setting projects and receiving carbon credits for our initiatives further reinforces our sustainability efforts.

Moreover, these certifications closely align with our contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), advancing progress towards goals related to climate action, clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and responsible consumption and production. Overall, acquiring these certifications solidifies Bogawantalawa Teas’ position as a sustainability trailblazer in the tea industry, inspiring positive change and contributing to a more environmentally conscious future.