Markets working to support sustainable development

Ethical Tea Partnership

The Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) ‘aims to drive positive change across the tea sector and ensure that our members’ tea comes from sustainable sources. Membership is open to any tea packing company that sells tea to markets in the EU, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The Ethical Tea Partnership monitors and evaluates members’ tea estates against a set of standards. These standards are primarily based on the Ethical Trade Initiative Base Code but also include an environmental component. Once a tea packing company becomes a member of the ETP it must disclose all of its sources of tea. The ETP National Managers run workshops with tea producers to help identify key risks – this assessment then provides the basis for improvement plans. Tea producers are then assessed against the ETP standards by independent consultants. This monitoring programme is free of charge to producers.

The ETP Standards are:

  • Freely chosen employment
  • Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
  • Health and Safety
  • Child Labour and Young Workers
  • Wages and Benefits
  • Working Hours
  • Discrimination
  • Regular Employment
  • Harsh and Inhumane Treatment
  • Environment (Environmental management; agrochemical use; ecosystem, soil and water conservation; energy use; waste management.)

In addition to monitoring its own tea producers, the ETP also plays a role in facilitating 3rd party certification (e.g. Fairtrade, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance) and capacity building. This is an increasing focus of ETP. 

Market coverage: 

The ETP has 36 member companies, representing over 50 brands in over 100 countries.

Background information: 

The Ethical Tea Partnership began in 1997 as ‘Tea Sourcing Partnership’ in the UK and was started by a small group of UK based tea packing companies. In 2004 it changed name to the Ethical Tea Partnership. Membership has grown and now includes members from North America, Europe and Australasia.


Funding source: 

ETP works with finding organisations to support their intiatives, including the Sustainable Trade Intiative and the German Development Agency.

Notable information: 

The ETP is involved in capacity building efforts and facilitating 3rd party certification initiatives. This is aimed at driving change rather than just monitoring the activities of its members. It is an also an important recognition of the need to prepare producers for the audits associated with these certification schemes.