Indian company Stone Age has joined the Ethical Stone Register to provide assurances that its stone comes from slave-free sources.
Stone Age Private Ltd has become the first Indian company to have achieved a listing on Stone Federation Great Britain's Ethical Stone Register.
Indian companies in particular have been criticised for the level of modern slavery in their stone supply sector, with bonded labour, including women and children, working without proper reward or consideration for health & safety in high silica content sandstone and granite quarries and workshops.
Bonded labour is illegal in India but is still commonplace. Families effectively sell members into bondage as a way of securing loans.
Of course, most Indian companies do not operate with slave labour and major suppliers of Indian sandstone and granite in the UK, especially in the hard landscaping sector, have made significant efforts to source their stones from verifiably slave-free supply chains.
The Ethical Stone Register gives all companies, including those from India, a chance to demonstrate their ethical trading credentials. That enables larger firms, which have to produce modern slavery statements as part of their annual reporting, the assurance that stone they are using is coming from legitimate suppliers.
There are three levels of entry on the register and companies are encouraged to work towards the higher Accreditation level from the entry Declaration level. Stone Age Private has joined at the middle Verification level, becoming the first Indian company to achieve this status for its 14 stones.
Stone Age Private provides a vertically integrated, documented supply chain from quarry to product manufacture and UK distribution. It supplies both custom and standard dimensional stone paving and tiles for exterior and interior applications.
The Ethical Stone Register is a resource created specifically for the natural stone industry in response to The Modern Slavery Act 2015. It enables stone companies, whatever their size, to offer a responsible and manageable ethical sourcing solution to their clients.
Requirements for the three levels of registration are explained below:
Declaration - At this tier, companies will have to complete a questionnaire looking at the responsible and ethical sourcing practices of their business. To achieve this level, a company will need to meet 100% of the criteria. The claims and assertions made by a firm at this level will be by means of self-declaration.
Verification - At this tier, the claims made by a company at the Declaration level will be externally verified. The initial verification will be for the company rather than each material they supply, however, they may choose to have some or all of their stones included at Verification level. This will involve an independent auditor assessing the journey of the material and ensuring that the responsible and ethical sourcing criteria are met the whole way along the supply chain. Only verified stones will appear on the Register itself.
Accreditation - At this tier, members will have met the requirements of the Declaration and Verification tiers, and will be further audited for this level. The aim is to have the scheme recognised and to gain credits within schemes such as BREEAM and LEED at this tier.