From quarry to graveyard: Corporate social responsibility in the natural stone sector

From quarry to graveyard: Corporate social responsibility in the natural stone sector

Social and environmental impacts of stone quarrying

This report seeks to provide a better understanding of the natural stone sector, in particular quarrying and processing in India and imports and consumption in the Netherlands. The report offers:

  • a detailed account of the labour and social issues as well as the environmental and economic concerns in quarrying and in processing that need to be addressed from a corporate social responsibility point of view
  • an overview of existing government-driven sustainability policies and practices in the Netherlands relevant to the natural stone sector
  • a survey of existing voluntary sustainability initiatives in or relevant to the natural stone sector
  • suggestions and recommendations on how the industry can assume its responsibility in improving social and en environmental issues throughout the natural stone supply chain.

The report concludes that the quarrying and processing of natural stone is characterised by major social and environmental problems. Desk study of sources describing the situation in India, after China the most important natural stone producing and exporting country in the world, clearly reveals this. Problems include:

  • bonded labour
  • child labour
  • hazardous and unfair working conditions
  • a series of environmental issues such a land degradation
  • the violation of national legislation as well as international standards on a large scale
  • existing corporate social responsibility initiatives have fundamental flaws which are barely developed or implemented beyond the first supplier.

The report concludes that from a corporate social responsibility perspective this situation demands a pro-active approach. The report argues that the Working Group on Sustainable Natural Stone offers a platform to Dutch companies and trade associations to develop and implement viable mechanism to clean up the international supply chain of natural stone. The Dutch Sustainable Stone Initiative calls upon other actors in the natural stone business, including the government, to tailor its purchasing policies and practices to the norms outlined in the CSR Frame of Reference for natural stone products that is currently being developed.