International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

Assessment of Voluntary Sustainability Standards Implementation on the Environmental Performance of the Tea Sector in Rwanda: A Comparative Study of, Sorwathea and Mulindi tea Factories in Rwanda
Gitau Wamukui, Jaya Shukla, Joseph Odour

The objective of this study is to assess the implementation of Voluntary sustainability standards projects on the environmental performance of tea production units in Rwanda. The key focus of implementation of the Voluntary Sustainable standards (VSS) projects is the improvement the economic, social and environmental performance of the industry that they are implemented. The study was done through a comparison of two operational tea factories (Sorwatea and Mulindi tea factories) where the VSS projects have been implemented at varied levels. The effects of these standards implementation was measured through the assessment the following specific environmental performance indicators:Water usage, Energy usage, waste generation and biodiversity loss whose trend changes were compared. The study is an exploratory research which is motivated by the confirmed gaps existing in the review of the effects of the implementation of the VSS projects in the country and the focus of going green in the tea sector in Rwanda. The research adopted a mix of both qualitative and quantitative approaches which are aimed ensuring that enough data was be gathered to cover the subject. The research strategy that has been adopted for this study is a comparative study for two tea production units (currently producing around 30% of Rwanda tea by volume). Data collection was both primary (Interviews, key informants) and secondary data (company data and other sourced data) collection methods. Data was be analyzed using a matrix table for the qualitative data and contemporary statistical tools (Student T test and correlation coefficient) for the quantitative data using the statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version18.The results of the study show that at least 72 % of the tea factories in Rwanda have implemented one or sacral of the VSS project in their firm. The leading firm in the implementation of the standards is Sorwatea which has 8 VSS implemented since they started the process in 2006. The key influences/drivers for the implementation of the standards were noted to be regulatory, social, improved environmental an operational performance and commercial motivations. The key challenges of implementing VSS project in firms were noted to be Financial, Operational and Human resources. Sorwatea which has a longer history of implementing the VSS projects has managed to overcome most of the challenges in comparison to Mulindi which is just starting the journey. The research study found that there is a relationship between environmental performance and the implementation of VSS. Detailed analysis of various parameters well showed that Sorwatea has better environmental performance and this could be attributed to the implementation of VSS projects as the production for the two firms, locality, type of tea is all the same. This was evidenced by the following:
- The presence of robust Environmental management system at Sorwatea in comparison to Mulindi.VSS implementation as noted to lead to some sustainable actions like water metering and conservation, waste water analysis amongst others.
- The trend of water usage where it has declined overtime at Sorwatea as compared to Mulindi.
- There is a significant difference in water fuel, firewood and electivity usage between the two firms.
- Sorwatea has a functional waste water treatment plant and do undertake waste water analysis unlike Mulindi.
- Sorwatea has a robust Solid waste management system where there is separation of waste reuse recycling and as from this year (2005) they have started recording the quantities of waste generated in the firm. This was absent in Mulindi.- Sorwatea has a biodiversity restoration program had have consistently been planting trees for firewood and general cover (indigenous ) trees for the last four years unlike Mulindi where this was absent. As the research study has identified and can conclusively showed that that there a positive influence on Environmental performance due to implementation of VSS project in tea firms in Rwanda The study therefore recommends that other tea processing units should implement VSS projects so as to ensure improved environmental performance of their firms and also the greening of the industry as per the country aspirations.

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