How “responsibly” produced is natural stone?
Natural stone is a beautiful and durable product for floors, kitchen worktops, monuments, pavement and building façades. Ethical and environmental concerns exist about how natural stone is quarried, processed and traded. Many quarries and processing factories do not comply with globally recognized labour standards. Often, quarry owners have little awareness of the environmental impact of their operations on the landscape, on water and the air.
- Heavy, dangerous work in quarries, with high temperatures and excessive dust and noise
- Access to health care and social security
- Excessive working hours
- Use of child labor, mainly in manual cutting of cobblestones
- Poor housing for migrant laborers
- Adverse impacts on water supplies, air and the landscape
Step-by step approach
The problems are not always present, nor do they occur everywhere to the same extent. However their existence is a good reason for natural stone companies and sector associations to take action to prevent them, in order to produce responsible stone.
The whole supply chain has to be tackled, including quarries and factories. If needed, these issues will be tackled in a realistic step-by-step approach. In addition working on sustainability in another country means adapting to existing activities with local standards, and involving local organizations. Therefore taking the local context into account.