Sustainable Tobacco Programme
New programme drives industry-wide supplier standards
The Sustainable Tobacco Programme helps to drive standards in agricultural practices, environmental management and key social and human rights areas.
At BAT, we have always taken the environmental and social issues associated with growing and processing tobacco very seriously.
An example of this commitment is our Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRTP) programme, which ran for more than 15 years. SRTP set out the minimum performance levels we expected of our tobacco leaf suppliers in areas such as sustainable agriculture, environmental management and human rights.
Through annual self-assessments and on-site reviews, SRTP promoted best practice and drove continuous improvement across our leaf supply chain.
In 2016, we replaced SRTP with the Sustainable Tobacco Programme (STP). This is an industry-wide initiative developed in collaboration with other manufacturers to bring together best practice from across the industry and drive continuous improvement. It is also aligned to important external standards, such as those of the International Labour Organisation, and includes strengthened processes and more frequent on-site reviews, and acts as a due diligence platform set up to evolve and support the sector to continuously improve its impacts towards sustainable supply chains.
STP is governed by a Steering Committee, formed by industry members including BAT. The programme has recently undergone a detailed review to evolve and improve it. This included engagement with suppliers and other relevant stakeholders, as well as reviews of external standards and emerging issues. The updated STP has taken effect from 2021, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and has a stronger focus on impact, risk and continual improvement.
The programme includes standards and criteria on a range of our ESG focus areas, structured under the key themes of water, human and labor rights, farmer livelihoods, climate change, natural habitats, soil health, crop and governance.
Examples of the human rights criteria include child and forced labour, health and safety, and living income. The environmental criteria include the use of agrochemicals, soil and water management, biodiversity protection, and forest management.
It is our policy that all our leaf operations and suppliers participate in STP. Each year, they complete a comprehensive self-assessment against the STP themes, as well as a review of risk assessments and respective action plans.
Information for the farm-level criteria is gathered by our leaf operations and suppliers through their respective farm-monitoring procedures. For BAT leaf operations, data for STP assessments is collected via our Farmer Sustainability Management (FSM) digital monitoring tool. In 2021 the majority of issues recorded in FSM (96.5%) related to the safe handling, use and storage of agrochemicals, 0.02% on soil and water best practices among others.
How we respond
Results of the self-assessments and onsite reviews form the foundation for a dialogue for improvement between the supplier, BAT and, potentially, other relevant stakeholders. This may result in creation of action plans to progress towards improved impacts, particularly where ‘red flags’ are identified. The due diligence cycle is subsequently repeated, and action plans are reviewed as part of the process to support continued improvement.
Agricultural crop certification
In 2021, we were the first ever tobacco company in Brazil to achieve certification by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture for 100% of our tobacco volumes. The certification involved over 15,000 contracted farmers and covered detailed standards for sustainable agriculture. This included the adoption of best practices for planting techniques, soil conservation, integrated pest management and sustainable water management. Farmers had to demonstrate adherence to social standards too, including for health and safety and human rights. The certification guarantees the full traceability of the tobacco to farm level and provides verified records of the high social and environmental standards practiced. In the US, our leaf operation has participated for a number of years in the industry’s Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) Connections Certification Programme. In 2021, some 90% of our contracted farmers achieved GAP certification. In 2021 these programmes have reached about 28% of the Group tobacco volume procured.