ITG Brands Sustainable Tobacco Program
At ITG Brands, we purchase tobacco from third-party suppliers mainly through the leading international leaf supplying companies. While our tobacco comes from diverse locations – including Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Malawi, Turkey, Macedonia, Bulgaria and the United States – a common theme is a shared commitment to sustainability.
Having a strong focus on farmer viability and leaf sustainability is important for ensuring ITG Brands’ future. Through our Sustainable Tobacco Program, we monitor the social, environmental and economic standards of our tobacco supply – from its farm origins to the leaf processing facilities. Throughout the process, we emphasize continuous improvement and promote all parties working together to ensure short- and long-term supply of quality leaf. We do this by focusing on labor, safety and environmental issues.
As with Imperial Brands, our commitment to sustainability is strong. The child labor guidelines and expectations we measure against are based on a number of international and legal instruments contained in the Conventions of International Labor Organization and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, we support the policies of the Eliminating Child Labor in Tobacco Growing Foundation. This foundation aims to make life better for children in tobacco-growing communities.
We manage our sustainable tobacco program, but it is administered in conjunction with a number of other tobacco manufacturers. This promotes consistency and reduces redundancies as companies share some suppliers. We and our industry colleagues are assisted by AB Sustain (www.absustain.com), the international supply chain specialists whose experienced consultants provide international best practices and administer many aspects of our sustainable tobacco program.
Each year we require our tobacco suppliers to complete a review in which they individually assess their performance. AB Sustain also conducts a review every three years of each supplier. At ITG Brands, we require our suppliers to develop improvement plans based on both reviews. We monitor these improvement plans and in the event of a supplier’s non-compliance and a continued failure to reach our standards, we may end our business relationship with that supplier. But the overwhelming majority of our business relationships are characterized by mutual cooperation and respect, a shared commitment to continuous improvement, and individual responsibility.
A review of each of our leaf supplier’s conduct covers critical practices, including:
- Governance – Formal documentation, structure, commitment and awareness.
- Processing – Working environment, impact on community, factory safety, fire prevention and evacuation, medical facilities (including first aid and community support), site security, transport (including vehicles, drivers and environmental impact), and in-factory non-tobacco related materials.
- Agronomy – Seed selection and variety performance, integrated pest management (including crop protection agents safety and application), soil conservation, water conservation and pollution prevention, biodiversity and farmer training.
- Post-Harvest Management – Curing, energy conservation and source management, and on-farm non-tobacco-related materials.
- Social Issues – Children on farms, farmers’ margins, equal opportunities and fair labor practices.
- Climate Change – Risks and opportunities, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and engagement with farmers, contractors and suppliers.
Based on previous responses and supply volumes, ITG Brands’ leaf sustainability team follows up with visits to suppliers to review assessments and progress, establishing improvement rates and benchmarks suited to each supplier’s situation and starting level to help ensure continued success.
As with any well-run program, our entire sustainable tobacco leaf effort is periodically reviewed and critiqued to ensure it is achieving what we ourselves advocate.