Sustainability

1 August 2014

Guideline on natural stone products

Reading time: 4 min.

While it may not always be obvious, natural stone materials such as marble, granite and sandstone play a significant role in our day-to-day lives – as tiles on a terrace, on a wall or as a kitchen work surface. However, the manufacturing and processing of these materials often has unfortunate social and environmental consequences. The REWE Group wants to play an active role in solving these problems.

Background

In countries like China and India, which are leaders in the production of natural stone, work in quarries and processing plants poses risks to workers as well as to the environment. In addition to the problems of excessive land use and dust exposure, waste products and polluted wastewater are released into the surrounding areas and the groundwater, jeopardising the local water supply. Most quarrying is still done by hand. Working with stone saws, scrapers and sometimes explosives exposes workers to significant risks. Because of a lack of safety measures, work-related accidents are frequent occurrences. Chronic respiratory diseases, too, are not uncommon. There are fundamental problems as well, such as inadequate social security and the danger of child labour.

Our goals

The REWE Group wants to play an active role in solving the social and environmental problems that are associated with the production and processing of natural stone products for its toom Baumarkt chain. To that end, it is continually expanding its range of certified, more sustainably produced natural stone products. The company has also defined its core requirements for natural stone producers and processors with respect to social issues and fairness, occupational safety, environmental protection and government inspections, as well as transparency and relationships with NGOs. These include a ban on child and forced labour, appropriate protective gear, minimising dust formation and disposing of wastewater in accordance with legal requirements. In the interest of product traceability, the addresses of processors and quarries and the names of the responsible contact persons must be communicated to the REWE Group.

Our measures

To ensure that these core requirements are met, the REWE Group agrees with suppliers on a set of measures, and compliance is monitored by means of independent inspections and certifications. Plans and schedules for implementing these measures are determined in consultation with each supplier. In cooperation with an independent auditing or certification agency, a system is being put in place to facilitate product traceability, extending as far back as the quarry, to ensure that the requirements have been met.

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