Stone Federation recently launched The Ethical Stone Register, a unique resource created specifically for the natural stone industry, in response to The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the issues of sourcing materials responsibly.
Following the launch, we have been speaking with the pilot scheme members to find out about their journey on the scheme. These interview will provide contractors, architects, designers, clients and natural stone firms with an insight into the workings and systems of the Ethical Stone Register.
The second interview is with British quarry operator and supplier, Burlington Stone, and Stone Federation’s Chief Executive, Jane Buxey, asked Burlington’s Technical Sales and Production Manager, John Penellum, about their Ethical Stone Register journey and achieving Verification Level.
Jane Buxey: Congratulations on achieving your Verification Level – what was the motivation for engaging with this scheme?
John Penellum: Thank you, Burlington see ethical sourcing as very important and hope that architects, clients and contractors all appreciate that project costs should not over rule the need for responsible manufactured products to be used on their projects.
JB: What are the commercial benefits that you saw in taking the time to complete the process?
JP: We believe that this is the way forward in the stone industry and like any other everyday products, you should have the choice of using a material that has been manufactured to the highest standards whilst working towards and maintaining an ethical ethos.
JB: Do you find that proof of sustainable procurement is a major influencing factor for your clients?
JP: Yes, and as the industry moves forward, we see increasingly that clients want to know more and more about where the stone has come from, and at what cost to the environment. Especially with Burlington being based in and adjoining the Lake District National Park, soon to be a “UNESCO world heritage site”. Being verified by the Ethical Stone Register helps promote the fact that we have considered every impact that our business has on humanity and the planet.
JB: How, as a British Stone quarrier do you feel that this achievement will add to your unique selling point?
JP: As one of the Stone Federation Ethical Stone Register pilot scheme companies, we already have an advantage within the industry, being able to meet the highest standard of projects.
Burlington stones major unique selling points are that we can offer one of the finest most durable natural materials in the world, with eight quarries in the heart of the Lake District, using skilled British craftsmen to deliver an amazing product all around the world.
Established in 1843 we are a British family run business with long traditions and values, we are currently assessed to ISO14001, ISO9001 and environmental profiles.
Being part of the Ethical Stone Register is essential in maintaining our reputation of being one of the best in the industry and setting a standard for others to follow.
JB: What development do you think there will be within the British quarrying sector, in relating to the issues of ethical and responsible sourcing, over the next 5 years?
JP: I believe that as more clients become aware of ethical sourcing there will be increased demand for suppliers to meet their expectations. It will become unacceptable to not question where and how stone is produced. Being able to show accreditation for this will help clients choose between similar products, some of which may not be ethically sourced. This will offer the customer a clear choice and possibly an explanation for the associated cost differences between alternative products.
There are three tiers of membership of the Register, Declaration, Verification and Accreditation and the requirements of each level 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.