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Wake up and smell the Fairtrade coffee!

Press Release   •   Mar 05, 2006 23:00 GMT

Virgin Trains today became the first national company in the UK to convert all its drinks to Fairtrade.

At the start of Fairtrade Fortnight Virgin Trains has replaced its entire range of teas, coffees and hot chocolate and now serves only products certified by the independent FAIRTRADE mark. In another UK first Virgin Trains is now using Fairtrade chocolate sprinkles for its hot drinks toppings.

The new range of high quality products, supplied by producers in Colombia, Tanzania, Brazil, Paraguay, India and Sri Lanka, is available on both West Coast and CrossCountry services. Over the coming weeks Fairtrade drinks will also be introduced in Virgin Trains’ First Class Lounges at Euston, Coventry, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

Welcoming Virgin Trains to the Fairtrade community, Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation said: “Congratulations to Virgin Trains for blazing a trail to become the first national rail operator to switch all its hot drinks to Fairtrade. So many people have told us that whilst they buy Fairtrade tea and coffee for their homes, it’s hard to keep up the Fairtrade habit when on the move, so we’re delighted that Virgin Trains has responded to customer demand.

“This means disadvantaged farmers who grow the coffee, tea, cocoa and sugar are guaranteed a fair and stable price including a premium to invest in long term farm development or social projects in their local communities. That’s what the FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees. So now enjoying a hot drink on Virgin Trains will bring a brighter future to many farmers, workers and their families in the developing world.”

Philippa Cresswell, Virgin Trains Product Development Director said: “At Virgin we have always been conscious of our responsibilities to people throughout the world and the need to play our part in protecting the environment. We see our decision to move to Fairtrade products as a logical and significant contribution to economic and social improvements.”

The switch to Fairtrade hot drinks complements the company’s successful and expanding recycling policy. Under the Virgin Unite banner it now has facilities to recycle at six Virgin Trains stations. The scheme started in 2003 with the opening of recycling facilities at Crewe which now handles approximately one tonne of paper and cardboard waste a week – equal to about 17 trees. Onboard cleaners, station staff and station tenants separate paper and cardboard.

Following the huge success at Crewe, recycling facilities are now in place at Preston, Birmingham International, Wolverhampton, Stafford and Stoke.

Virgin Trains offices at Euston and Birmingham also recycle their office paper waste, toners and printer cartridges and fluorescent lightbulbs. Old mobile telephones are also recycled, with all proceeds from the recycling programme going to charity.

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