Social and community issues
We approach social and community issues primarily in terms of the economic, environmental and social impacts of our core operations and our supply chain. We also invest in a range of philanthropic projects.
Our Group purchases some 380,000 tonnes of tobacco leaf a year, around 80 per cent of it from farmers and suppliers in emerging economies. We also purchase significant quantities of other raw materials, such as packaging, cigarette paper, filter materials, glues, inks and plug wraps.
Our supply chain programmes help to evaluate our suppliers’ environmental and social performance and support them in achieving high standards.
Our Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRTP) programme addresses issues associated with leaf growing and processing and reaches around 300,000 farmers who supply all the leaf we buy. Issues covered include soil and water conservation, afforestation, appropriate use of agrochemicals, farmers’ standard of living and child labour, as well as environmental, occupational health and safety standards.
In 2008, 17 reviews were conducted on our companies and third party suppliers in 9 countries under the programme. Feedback from the reviews was used to help the participants improve on their performance. We plan to conduct 23 reviews in 15 countries in 2009.
Our Business Enabler Survey Tool (BEST) establishes the standards we expect from our suppliers of raw materials other than leaf. It includes 108 criteria for measuring our suppliers’ performance. In 2008, BEST was extended to service suppliers with 88 specific criteria. We also refined our approach to focus on suppliers that represent a higher level of risk to the business.
We carried out BEST reviews of 22 global, 6 regional and 6 local materials and machinery suppliers. Of these, 10 gained Approved, 19 gained Qualified and 5 gained Certified status.
Corporate social investment
Our corporate social investment (CSI) activities include a range of community and charitable projects with 3 main themes: Empowerment, Civic Life and Sustainable Agriculture. Our global CSI expenditure in 2008 was £18.4 million as defined by the statutory reporting criteria for charitable donations.
Part of our CSI supports the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership, through which we work with conservation NGOs to understand and minimise our impacts on biodiversity and integrate biodiversity management into our business practices. Since 2001 we have donated £9.5 million to the Partnership, and have committed a further £1.5 million a year until 2010.
For more, see www.batbiodiversity.org .
We also helped to establish the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation in 2001 and have actively supported it since. It brings together the major tobacco manufacturers, leaf suppliers and representatives of the trades unions and growers’ associations to support community projects to eliminate child labour in tobacco growing and facilitate access to education.
In 2008, the Foundation supported projects in 7 countries, mostly in Africa. It also advised us on updating our SRTP programme to help leaf suppliers address child labour more effectively.
For more, see www.eclt.org .