Tobacco growing, harvesting and curing account for around 40 percent of our carbon footprint, out of which more than half comes from the fuels used to cure Virginia tobacco. We are working with farming communities to reduce the environmental footprint of tobacco curing and growing. We do that through our Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program and strategic initiatives such as curing barn improvements and reforestation. GAP lays out extensive agricultural environmental practices for farmers to adopt; these practices cover effective farming techniques, the safe storage, handling and use of chemicals (crop protection agents), water and waste management, and energy efficiency. GAP implementation helps us deliver on our 2020 target for CO2 reduction in our value chain. Beyond the farm, we’re also working to improve the efficiency and lower the environmental impact of our operations.
lower carbon-emission intensity to cure flue-cured tobacco leaf by 2020, compared to the 2010 baseline
coal usage for tobacco curing by 2020
deforestation of old-growth forest due to growing and curing tobacco by 2020
We’re working with our suppliers to reduce the amount of fuel needed to cure Virginia tobacco by improving the energy efficiency of curing farms.
For example, Virginia tobacco is one type of tobacco cured in heated barns, which are often made of brick. The heat needed to cure the tobacco is distributed through flue (air) pipes. Together with our suppliers, we are supporting farmers to improve these traditional barns by converting them with improved furnace, insulation, chimney, and flue modifications. Bulk barns, which are metallic container-shaped boxes, are more energy efficient than traditional barns. We are promoting bulk barns in locations like Brazil.
We’re moving to more sustainable curing fuel sources and encouraging fuel-switching to less polluting fuels such as the use of biomass – wood and crop residues such as nut shells and tree prunings – as an alternative fuel where appropriate.
By 2020, we aim to have zero coal usage for tobacco curing and ensure no deforestation due to the growing and curing of the tobacco we purchase. We’re also applying the Natural Capital Protocol to measure how we are protecting the environment and improving the well-being of farmers and their families. Read our case study.
In 2015, PMI and its suppliers planted more than 29 million trees and implemented programs to increase the total fuel consumed for tobacco curing from renewable energy sources. We believe that biomass and traceable sources of wood fuel are the most cost-effective renewable energy options. We also continue to review the potential of new technologies, such as using solar energy in curing barns.
In Italy we worked with local farmers to open a biomass curing center. The center has a central water boiler fueled by sustainably sourced wood chips to produce hot water that is distributed to its 36 curing barns. The barns are equipped with a heat exchanger device to transfer heat from hot water to air. The hot air is then forced into the barn and through the densely-packed tobacco leaves by a fan. By using a renewable fuel source instead of fossil fuel such as diesel to cure tobacco, this center reduces greenhouse gas emissions and minimizes the impact on the environment.
We want farm workers to be treated fairly and enjoy safe working and living conditions.