CSR and British American Tobacco’s (BAT) sustainability

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Projects and Programs Undertaken

In relation to the development of the world’s resources, sustainability has been defined as an inevitable issue because development that meets the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. British American Tobacco’s (BAT) sustainability agenda is governed by a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) committee. The projects and programs are undertaken by BAT as showed below.

Tobacco farming lead to deforestation due to land clearing for tobacco agriculture and wood is used to cure tobacco leaves and to construct curing barns.

Regarding the issue on tobacco farming lead to deforestation due to land clearing for tobacco agriculture and wood is used to cure tobacco leaves and to construct curing barns, BAT Malaysia contributed it effort by established an afforestation programme as part of our long term commitment to reduce the carbon footprint. The programme is put in order to Malaysia’s goal of reducing 40% of its carbon dioxide emission by year 2020 than 2005 levels. BAT Malaysia has planted more than 6467 hectares of various tree species. The afforestation programme has sequestered more than 230,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum.

Besides, BAT Malaysia employee, Gerald Alfonse initiated a tree-planting activity within his neighbourhood in July 2012. This activity was funded by Earthwatch, a partner in the global BAT Biodiversity partnership with initially in response to the trees that were felled in the housing area. This activity is to raise the community awareness on protecting biodiversity. BAT employees can apply for the grant awarded by Earthwatch for funding a biodiversity initiative in their local community.

BAT international also work hard to change the way farmers look at the forests and find alternatives for them to use wood from natural forests as a fuel to cure their tobacco. The farmers have reduced their use of natural forest for curing fuels down. BAT have planted over 170 million trees through afforestation programmes which finding available and alternative fuels that are locally such as rice paddy husks and candlenut shells and supply a sustainable source of wood. Moreover, BAT finding methods to reduce use of wood fuel by identifying innovative designs for curing barns. For example, BAT are piloting “rocket barns” in Zimbabwe which use up to 50% less fuel than conventional curing barns due to their distinctive double chimneys draw air more advanced.

With the intention to solve the issue, BAT have been working in the BAT Biodiversity Partnership with three major international conservation NGOs which are Fauna & Flora International, the Earthwatch Institude and the Tropical Biology Association to protect biodiversity in the landscapes. It also developed a biodiversity risk and opportunity assessment (BROA) which used to identify potential issues and impacts in tobacco farming landscapes before working with other stakeholders to discover solution. For instance, the BROA in Uganda discovered risks to freshwater ecosystem and sustainable forest use in tobacco growing regions. BAT is working together with local communities and the government on risk mitigation actions which including improved management and monitoring offorest and freshwater ecosystem.

Agrochemical used for the plant to remove insects and so on will harm the farmer as there is insufficient protection and cause a loss of ecosystem services, including land resources, biodiversity and food sources.

Green tobacco sickness (Global)

Green tobacco sickness (GTS) is a type of nicotine poisoning caused when nicotine

is absorbed through the skin from wet tobacco leaves. This poses a risk to farmers when they harvest tobacco when it is wet. BAT is working on raising awareness of GTS and explaining to farmers on methods to reduce risk of developing GTS, like only handling dry leaves. BAT encourages more farmers to make Personal Protective Equipment such as gloves, trousers and clothes made from impermeable cloth available to their workers. In addition, we’re also helping farmers to recognise the

symptoms of GTS and how to treat it. (BAT sustainability summary, 2013)

Use of agrochemicals

Besides, BAT uses an integrated pest management which seeks to only use synthetic pesticides only when there is no other way to control pest numbers. This method significantly reduces amount of synthetic pesticides used. BAT encourages the use of safer agrochemicals and actively discourages the use of highly dangerous active ingredients as classified by the World Health Organization. The agrochemicals used have to registered and approved by local legislators. Besides, BAT issues guidelines on products they consider most appropriate to use on tobacco and update the guidelines frequently. BAT is also working on alternatives to agrochemicals such as natural enemies which can be insects that deal naturally with pests.

It can be seen that BAT is working on preventing their farmers from harm. This may be because it is in their interest to do so.

Cigarette butt litter everywhere and cause Cigarette butts toxic to children and animals

The independentButt Free Australia was formed in 2003 to tackle the growing issue of cigarette butt litter in the Australian environment. BAT Australia handed over a total of $5.4 million to Butt Free Australia for costs of anti-butt littering projects as well as ongoing costs associated with the management of the Trust up to the end 2010. The organisation carried out a few successful projects across the country, including the ‘Butt Free City’ and ‘Not a Good Look’ campaigns in major Australian cities. (BAT Australia, 2012)

At the end of 2011, BAT Australia made the decision to stop funding Butt Free Australia. Butt Free Australia decided to wind up the Butt Littering Trust as of30 November 2011and transfer its assets to Keep South Australia Beautiful. (BAT Australia, 2012)

To reduce the amount of cigarette butts littered, either the environmental awareness of people has to be raised or the amount of cigarettes smoked has to be reduced. Since to reduce the amount of cigarettes would be in conflict with their interest and to raise the environmental awareness of the people is a task that even the government finds difficult. This would be my opinion as to why BAT has yet to tackle this problem.

Tobacco exacerbates poverty

Poverty eradication through building houses for the hardcore poor

In 2012, BAT handed over 15 houses to hardcore poor families in Kelantan which was a project in collaboration of Kelantan Southern Development Authority in Gua Musang. (BAT Annual report, 2012) This is to give them shelter as a basic necessity to aid them in breaking out of poverty.

Later in 2013, the second stage of the plan is carried out. 20 houses were built for the hardcore poor in Kedah in collaboration with the Kedah Regional Development Authority (KEDA) under the Program Penempatan Masyarakat Setempat (PPMS). The total cost of the homes to date is RM1.16 million. In 2013, the construction of the 20 houses is completed. (BAT Annual report, 2013)

The houses would be what the hardcore poor families need. Once they have a roof over their heads, they would have the chance to work towards a better life.

Easing the burden of the underprivileged through food aid

In August 2012, the BAT Malaysia Foundation contributed RM3.16 million in support of a food aid programme to the needy by the MyKasih Foundation, a non-profit organisation, which aims to provide support to the less fortunate working in corroboration with various organisations. This contribution towards the MyKasih Foundation’s food aid programme benefits 2,500 hardcore poor for a year. Families under this programme will receive monetary support to purchase monthly essential household food items. (BAT Annual report, 2013)

One of the social issues is that tobacco exacerbates poverty, but tobacco companies are capable of making the lives of the underprivileged better. By providing them houses and food aid, they do not need to worry about their daily necessities temporarily and are able to look for methods to sustain themselves.

Providing education opportunities (Malaysia)

In December 2012, the British American Tobacco Malaysia Foundation held its 29th Foundation Day Awards Ceremony, awarding scholarships to 19 students from the retailers and leaf growers’ community, as well as employees’ children. The scholarships awarded amounted to RM224,000 for the full duration of their courses.

Besides scholarships, BAT Malaysia provides a head start in higher education to the tobacco growing community. A Higher Education Starter Kit was handed out to 141 recipients, the award, which totalled RM98,700 will help students obtain necessities such as books, clothes, accommodation, and transportation as they take their first step into tertiary education. (BAT Annual report, 2013)

On a side note, it is a fact that BAT is helping its famers worldwide to provide education opportunities to their offspring.