Jul 30 2008
With consumers scrutinising purchases more than ever, it’s crucial for companies to stand up to the test – especially when Indian Sandstone is involved.
Indian Sandstone is becoming increasingly popular. It is less expensive than natural British stones and within 10 years it is expected to account for a quarter of the UK domestic market for decorative paving.
However with its growing popularity there is also growing concern over its origins. We’re all becoming more aware of the chances child labour might have been involved, or bonded-labour – a modern form of slave labour; poor working conditions; next-to-nothing wages and practically no health and safety regulations.
So what’s a consumer to do? Should they avoid Indian Sandstone all together or can some companies out there be trusted to provide ethical products?
One company that is confident of the origins of its products and its supply chain is Marshalls plc, the UK’s largest importer of Indian Sandstone.
During the past two years, the leading hard landscaping manufacturer has received a raft of prestigious industry awards for its commitment to ethical trading and sustainability.
It has received a Business in the Community (BITC) Big Tick and been highly commended nationally for its supply chain ethics; a Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice as well as being voted the third most admired company by Management Today for its community and environmental responsibility.
Marshalls was also the first company in the hard landscaping industry to join the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and when it comes to importing Indian Sandstone, Marshalls certainly knows its product. The company employs independent auditors that regularly visit Stoneshippers, its sole supplier’s quarry in Rajasthan, to ensure it is meeting the ETI Base Code.
Marshalls’ Group Marketing Director, Chris Harrop has also made a number of personal visits to ensure the working conditions at the quarries meet Marshalls’ exacting standards and to verify first-hand that no child labour is used.
The company is committed to putting words in to action. It makes promises it intends to keep and does everything in its power to rigorously monitor its supply chain through robust processes.
“Marshalls is committed to managing its supply chain through regular independent auditing to ensure that safety, environmental and human rights are upheld by our suppliers,” said Chris Harrop.
“However while a lot of consumers are aware of the truth behind a lot of Indian Sandstone, many still do not know what lies behind the product and that so much is coming in to the UK from highly unethical sources.
“I would urge anyone considering to buy Indian Sandstone to make sure they check the supplier out properly – don’t just take it for granted that they are fulfilling their promises and providing an ethical product.”
A key part of Marshalls work also includes working with local non-governmental organisations and Indian partners. The company is significantly enhancing working conditions in Indian quarries by setting up health camps, providing education for young children and increasing financial security for workers.
According to Chris Harrop, consumers also need to be mindful of the carbon footprint – which can be massive when you’re importing sandstone across thousands of miles.
Marshalls has put in place a number of measures to help ensure it is minimising the carbon footprint left by is products, including being the first in its industry to launch an online carbon calculator for its customers. Marshalls has not only successfully reduced CO2 emissions, it is also working with the Carbon Trust on a carbon labelling programme for all products.
For customers still concerned about buying products imported from overseas, Marshalls also provides a number of concrete paving products that have half the carbon footprint of imported sandstone.