Working mostly behind the scenes, groups like the Rainforest Alliance are certifying everything from tea to coffee to forests around the world.
Certified tea reached 9.4% of global production and 2.7 million acres of farmland achieved Rainforest Alliance certification last year, for example.
Here’s how the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal grew in 2011:
Over 250,000 producers covering 1.1 million hectares (2.7 million acres) of farmland achieved Rainforest Alliance certification – awarded to farms that meet the rigorous environmental, social and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN).
The number of certified producers grew 20% certified farmland grew 55% from 2010.
500 more companies buy or sell Rainforest Alliance Certified products, bringing the total to nearly 3000, a 20% increase over 2010.
Certified Tea tripled, adding over 425,000 metric tons, representing 9.4% of global tea production. Over 260,000 smallholder tea farms in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are now certified.
Demand for certified tea is especially strong in the UK, where major brands Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tetley and PG Tips all carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. Mainland Europe’s largest tea brand, Teekanne, began sourcing from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, while in the US, Lipton continued scaling up its sourcing and The Republic of Tea launched its first teas from certified gardens.
Certified Coffee grew by 245,000 metric tons, rising 20%, bringing the global market share of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee to 3.3%.
Companies that source 100% of coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms include EMMI Café Latte, Tchibo, Kraft, Taylors of Harrogate, Peeze Koffie and Lofberg Lilla (Europe), and Caribou Coffee in North America. Second Cup sourced all its espresso and 80% of its coffee from certified farms, and Reunion Island, Nespresso and Nescafe each increased their commitments. Japan Airlines began serving certified coffee on all domestic and international flights.
Certified Cocoa has reached 2.7% of global production, rising 75% in 2011.
Mars announced that its Dove brand will be the first mainstream US chocolate brand to bear the seal, and it launched the Mars Bar in Australia with the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal.
Whole Foods launched frozen certified bananas and pineapples and Sam’s Club, certified bananas and flowers.
Rainforest Alliance is the leading certifier of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards – 45% of certified forests worldwide.
In 2011, it certified 7.4 million acres (3 million hectares) of forestland, increasing the total 5% to 164 million acres (66.3 million hectares) worldwide – an area almost the size of Texas.
FSC-certified forests conserve soil and water, and provide habitat for wildlife. Workers benefit from safe working conditions, respectable housing, health care and education for their children.
The Rainforest Alliance also works with companies to source their paper and wood products from certified forests. It has a new collaboration with Mattel Toys and ongoing work with Staples, Gibson, Oriflame, ASDA, Kingfisher subsidiary Koctes, Glaxo Smith Kline and Marks & Spencer.
The Rainforest Alliance provides rigorous, independent audits of forest carbon projects, verifying 2.47 million acres (over 1 million hectares) across 17 countries and verified carbon emission reductions of 154,976 tCO2e.
They verify forests’ ability to sequester carbon dioxide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also verify farmland – in 2011, they certified the first two coffee farms.
The group also provides training and technical assistance to tourism businesses in Latin America and verifies their compliance with standards for environmental, social and economic sustainability. 661 tourism businesses in Latin American work with the Rainforest Alliance.
In 2011, they launched Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability (TOPS), a global network of tour operators dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable tourism in their markets.
Here’s their website: