Learn more about the new Fair Trade product label
People Tree asks Fair Trade expert Christine Gent six key questions about the new World Fair Trade Organization Fair Trade product label. Christine Gent worked as a consultant helping People Tree and our Fair Trade partners implement the new Fair Trade Guarantee System. In an exclusive interview, Christine answers questions about the WFTO Fair Trade product mark:
1. Why a new Fair Trade mark? Doesn’t People Tree already have a Fair Trade International mark on much of its clothing?
Christine: The Fair Trade International (FLO) mark certifies when the cotton lint is Fair Trade, but the WFTO Fair Trade Guarantee System recognises that the whole of the company is 100% dedicated to Fair Trade. People Tree will still continue to use the FLO mark to show that People Tree work with Fair Trade cotton farmers.
2. How does the WFTO Fair Trade mark work alongside the FLO mark?
Christine: WFTO is the network of 100% dedicated Fair Trade Organisations around the world. Fairtrade Foundation is the representative of Fair Trade International here in the UK. The new WFTO mark can only be used by any guaranteed Fair Trade company or Organisation, whereas the FLO label can be used by any company that uses ingredients that comply with their standards. For example, a large company that is only trading a small percentage of its products lines as Fair Trade can use the FLO label for those product lines. Also this new WFTO product mark can be used for products such as crafts, which had never been able to be labelled before.
3. Why did People Tree go for this Fair Trade mark in addition to the others?
Christine: Fair Trade aims primarily to work with marginalised people. This mark is the only mark that recognises that the whole of our company is dedicated to Fair Trade.
4. Many People Tree products have an organic or Soil Association mark too. Is that not covered under the new WFTO Fair Trade mark?
Christine: People Tree will still continue using the Soil Association mark, as it certifies People Tree products are made to organic standards from field to warehouse. Although the environment is an important part of Fair Trade, the WFTO Fair Trade Guarantee System needs to strengthen its environmental requirements. People Tree is a pioneer of working with organic cotton and will continue to work with the Soil Association as their work is complementary to WFTO. The Soil Association mark is testament to People Tree’s dedication to go beyond the minimum requirements of the Fair Trade Guarantee System.
5. Why do consumers need a new Fair Trade mark?
Christine: This is not only good for People Tree here in the UK. The mark means that Fair Trade groups in the developing world, once they have gone through rigorous checks and audits, can use the Fair Trade mark and market their products locally as Fair Trade. This will bring Fair Trade producers, from North to South, more opportunities to sell their products and give them more work at better terms and prices.
6. How can I be sure that this system guarantees Fair Trade is happening?
Christine: This new guarantee system measures the whole company against the 10 principles of Fair Trade. The process to earn the new Fair Trade mark is rigorous.
Firstly, the organisation itself reports on its performance, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. Then a member of the Fair Trade movement is invited into the organisation. People Tree had Carry Somers of Pachacuti run through an internal audit. This helps to highlight any areas People Tree needed to address prior to the actual audit. Here at People Tree, we had to improve our internal monitoring system and recording of activities.
Once these things are in place, an auditor approved by WFTO, audits the entire system against the WFTO Fair Trade Guarantee System standard. This details the requirements against the 10 Principles of Fair Trade.
People Tree completed the audit process and was approved for a Fair Trade product mark in August 2013. The final check on this system is when the WFTO completes a further external audit on the whole system. People Tree are delighted to announce that we have been successful in this audit, and are the world’s first clothing company to receive the World Fair Trade organization Fair Trade product mark! The mark reflects our commitment to Fair Trade throughout our supply chain.
“I’m delighted to congratulate People Tree on being the first clothing company globally to achieve the World Fair Trade Organisation’s product label.” -Rudi Dalvai, President, World Fair Trade Organisation
What does the WFTO Product Mark mean to People Tree?
People Tree is delighted that the Fair Trade mark certifies our dedication and compliance to the WFTO Principles of Fair Trade. The audit process looked at every aspect of our business, covering fair wages, working conditions, transparency, capacity building, environmental best practice, gender equality and many more. The People Tree Fair Trade mark serves as a guarantee system for stakeholders, such as businesses, public authorities and consumers, through WFTO’s assessment that People Tree is dedicated to Fair Trade principles and practice.