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Sipping Sustainability: Dilmah tea brews a green legacy

By 25 March 2024April 3rd, 2024Feature Article, Sponsored Content

Sipping Sustainability: Dilmah tea brews a green legacy

The social and environmental initiatives from Dilmah reveal that your cup of tea involves a lot more decision-making than just a splash of milk or a dash of sugar.

‘Do Try it’ was Dilmah founder Merrill J Fernando’s successful soundbite when the company launched in New Zealand in 1991. It created a splash in the market as a young disrupter of the traditional tea market dominated by large corporates. Customer loyalty quickly grew for a beverage that also promised ethical and environmentally-friendly business practices, with Dilmah New Zealand’s most popular ‘cuppa tea’.

As a family of tea growers, apart from making a global tea brand known for its inimitable taste and natural goodness, they also have a passion to make a better tea for people and the planet.

Dilmah’s founder, Merrill J. Fernando, who died last year, aged 93, had a key principle on which the brand was created, “Business is a matter of human service”. A minimum of 15 per cent of Dilmah’s pretax profits directly benefit people and planet. While having allocated 10 per cent in 2019, Merrill increased the commitment to humanity by 50 per cent in response to the social and environmental challenges the world faces. These funds, generated by Dilmah Tea and allied businesses, fund the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation to directly, efficiently and effectively make the world a better tea.

Dilmah’s commitment to sustainability is not confined to their tea estates; it extends to the entire supply chain. The company actively seeks ways to minimise its carbon footprint, from eco friendly packaging to energy-efficient manufacturing processes. In 2021, Dilmah pledged Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) displaying their staunch commitment to achieving zero emissions by 2030.

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Dilmah is continuously exploring innovative solutions to reduce waste and embrace renewable energy sources, aligning its business practices with the global imperative to combat climate change. They are active members of the Sustainable Supply Chain Working Group and are involved in initiatives such as reforestation programs and wildlife conservation projects.

They recognize that sustainability is not just about protecting the environment but also about fostering equitable livelihoods and supporting the less fortunate in our communities.

Merrill’s principles and business philosophy have been passed down to his sons and grandchildren. They too recognize that sustainability is not just about protecting the environment but also about fostering equitable livelihoods and supporting the less fortunate in our communities. Dilmah has had a long history of helping Kiwis, whether through the 27-year association with Hospice NZ or regular product donations to Cancer Society and Ronald McDonald House, among others. Or the recent partnership with City Mission, where 250,000 teabags were donated year to date. Dilhan, son of Merrill, will also be participating in City Mission’s Celebrity Cook-off in June to help raise funds to support the work they do in the community.

Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando tasting tea at a Dilmah Tea Garden.

In addition to their environmental and social initiatives, Dilmah is pioneering sustainable tea production through their dedication to “Make the World a Better Tea” philosophy. This approach emphasises the traceability of each tea variety back to its specific origin, ensuring transparency and accountability. By fostering a direct connection between consumers and the source of their tea, Dilmah encourages informed choices that support sustainable and ethical practices.

In a world where corporate responsibility is no longer a mere buzzword but a prerequisite for success, Dilmah offers a cup of tea that reflects a commitment to the planet and its people. As we raise our teacups to savour the rich flavours, let us also toast to Dilmah Tea for proving that a sustainable future can indeed be brewed, one tea leaf at a time.