Sourcing Natural Stone Paving Ethically

 

Mass imports of natural stone paving to the UK began in the early 1990's.  British consumers lapped up Indian Sandstone as an affordable alternative to the prohibitively expensive indigenous stones like Yorkstone, Portland Stone and Welsh Slate.  As this large scale movement of stone was taking place nobody was asking about how the stone was sourced, in fact, at this point very few people would have known what the phrase, "ethically sourced" meant.  As consumers became more aware of the stone they were buying from places like India, China & Brazil, they also became more aware that the stone they were buying could have been produced in questionable working conditions.

At London Stone we noticed from about 2007 onwards that more and more of our customers were starting to ask about how sandstone paving was produced.  At this point we made a decision to find out more about our foreign supply chains.  After doing some online research we came across the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).  We joined the ETI as corporate members in 2009 which has started to shape our ethical trading policy.  After 3 years in the ETI we now have a much greater understanding of the isssues, especially in Indian Sandstone Paving production.  This allows us as a company to identify areas where we can make improvements to the conditions at the factories of our Indian Sandstone Paving suppliers.  The biggest challenge in India are working conditions in the quarries.  As the Indian Stone industry has become mechanised and sawn sandstone and calibrated paving have become more widespread, so have the improvements in working conditions in factories producing value added paving products.  The only way that we can tackle conditions in the quarry is through collective action, in this case members of the ETI stone group.  The ETI stone group is currently working on a project to improve heath & safety standards in the Indian sandstone industry with a view to trying to make improvements in quarry conditions.  Just to give an idea of the time scales involved, this project is expected to run for about 5 years.

For any further information on London Stone's ethical trading policy dont hesitate to contact me:  steven@londonstone.com

Steve Walley

 

By London Stone Blog | Published 26th July 2012
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