Rainforest Alliance / Who We Work With

Who We Work With…PG Tips

Monkey PG TipsThis month’s Who We Work With blog comes from a monkey. But not just any monkey…it’s our good friend Monkey from PG tips!

What is PG tips?

Since the 1930s, PG tips has been providing the nation with its favourite tea. One of the things that makes us the Nation’s Favourite Cuppa is our innovative pyramid bags. Some even call them the eighth wonder of the world! They act like a mini teapot, giving the leaves more room to move, so more flavour gets in your cuppa.

When and how was PG tips started?

Brooke Bond first started selling Pre-Gest-Tee (PG Tips) in 1930, and the brand has gone on to become a leader in the UK teabag market.

In 1930 tea was often sold on its medicinal properties and as an aid to digestion. One blend was promoted through a campaign aimed at doctors and nurses, on the strength of its properties as an aid to digestion. Some early advertisements contain references to these qualities of “digestive tea” or “pre-gestive tea”.

Bulk packets of Pre-Gest tea bore the letters “PG”, and the blend became known in the trade as “PG Tips”, as only the tips of the tea bush were plucked. This soon became commonly used as a brand name, which has survived up to the present day.

Initially, it was sold as a loose leaf tea, but the PG tips tea bag was introduced in the 1960s.

In the 1990s the makers of PG tips launched the revolutionary PG tips pyramid bags. With more room inside, it acts like a miniature teapot, giving the leaves more room to move.

How does PG tips work?

PG Tips is owned by Unilever, one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast-moving consumer goods.

What does sustainability mean to PG tips?

At PG tips, sustainability is at the heart of what we do. We know how important it is to look after the people who help us make our delicious tea. That’s why in 2007, we were proud to become the first tea brand to work with the Rainforest Alliance. By 2010 we achieved 100% certification across all of our tea, meaning that not only do the famers receive a fair wage for their work, but they are also provided with housing, medical care and education for their children.

This is only one aspect of our approach to sustainability. Our factory in Trafford Park has achieved its waste target of sending zero waste to landfill. This has been driven by a desire to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ material in our factory. This demonstrates our commitment to being environmentally friendly, as the result is that no waste ends up polluting the planet in landfill.

On the subject of reducing environmental impact, we are also considering ways in which we can reduce the amount of tea bags that end up in landfill, due to consumers not recycling them. Every day 165 million cups of tea are consumed, but only 55% of consumers have access to food waste recycling, meaning that a large proportion of used tea bags go into bins with other waste, and end up in landfill. In 2012 we began to work on educating consumers that if they have access to food waste recycling, they should be including used tea bags. For example, in May, we ran a campaign in Essex using the Monkey to endorse our campaign to get consumers recycling tea bags. This was the first time in the UK that a food or beverages brand had partnered with a local council, and we are now busy creating plans to follow up this successful campaign.

We have recently launched our new brand website which contains updated sustainability content, http://www.pgtips.co.uk/article. The website contains information both about what we have achieved in tackling sustainability issues, but also contains a section called ‘What can you do’, which provides advice to consumers about how they can do their bit to help the environment, for example composting tips, as well as links to the website of our friends at recyclenow.com.

Another area which we consider important to consider when planning for the future is helping those most in need. Over New Year, we donated 750,000 tea bags to a charity called Food For Fareshare. These were distributed to those most in need throughout the UK as we are aware of the role that tea can play in helping warm up those that may not have access to a hot meal every day, as it is the social glue to our society. We hope that we are able to continue to work with Food for Fareshare in the future.

Why the Rainforest Alliance?

PG tips was the first major tea company to work with the Rainforest Alliance, as we looked to transform the way in which tea is traded, and to improve the quality of life for over 2 million people.

As Unilever is the world’s largest buyer of tea at over 12%, it is vital that we behave responsibly, and look after the people who pick the tea. We committed to the Rainforest Alliance because we believe that it is not only the right thing to do for our consumers, but also demonstrates that we are taking care of the people throughout our supply chain. It will reassure our consumers that by drinking our tea, they are helping look after the farmers, improving their crops, incomes and livelihoods.

Our ambitions to farm sustainably actually date back to 1998 when the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture programme begun, and we recognised that the opportunity to work with the Rainforest Alliance would be a valuable chance further ensure that all of our products are sustainably sourced.

Click here to see the advert that we ran when we first launched our partnership with the Rainforest Alliance.

Tell us something about PG tips that we might not know?

We have been known to be associated with Royalty. In the 1980s, Prince Edward was photographed carrying a packet of PG tips on his way to work. Three hours later, our new ad was in the papers reading; ‘A prince amongst teas’.




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