Materials producers, including Marshalls, have sponsored the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to investigate the ethical sourcing of raw materials and components in developing countries.
BRE is now travelling the world to investigate exploitation in the building materials supply chain.
Last month the Fawcett Society, which campaign’s for women’s rights, drew unwelcome attention after the Daily Mail reported that its £45 T-shirts bearing the motto ‘This Is what a feminist looks like’ were made in a Mauritian sweatshop.
The BRE is now researching the practical realities of sourcing construction materials responsibly from international supply chains.
"Western perceptions of conditions in workplaces abroad are influenced by media reports of incidents seeking sensationalism,” said BRE’s head of responsible sourcing, Katie Livesey. “Rarely do we see a follow up to these stories and it is important to also report on remedial actions and successes. As part of this project we are visiting suppliers in countries such as India to learn the realities of working conditions there at first hand.
“We will use the findings to examine and enhance our own BES6001 responsible sourcing standard, which is now widely used in the UK construction sector."
Hard landscaping product manufacturer Marshalls sources stone in India, among other places, to which a site visit was recently conducted as part of this investigation.
“The findings of this and other visits are being developed into case studies that will help to increase the transparency of international supply chains and the trust within them,” Ms Livesey said. “They will provide direct insights to the varying legal, cultural and business practices in different countries. This will help us to connect the realities of the supply side with the expectations of the demand side in terms of responsible sourcing, using BES6001 version 3."
Earlier this year Marshalls became the first company in the materials sector to secure BRE Global’s responsible sourcing certification against the newly revised Issue 3.
'We take this issue extremely seriously and we are constantly seeking ways to further enhance our sustainable credentials,” said David Morrell, head of sustainability at Marshalls.