TTA has always encouraged its members to use responsible sourcing practices when importing tiles from overseas.
In fact, the industry can be proud of its record in this area, using careful sourcing to maximise benefit to producer communities, no matter where the products are being sourced from. TTA works hard to combat concern about the impact on local economies and populations of cut-price manufacturing practices in certain countries.
TTA has taken steps in recent months to address sustainability concerns about tile sourcing, through the work of its own Sustainability Working Group. TTA takes the view that its work on sustainability should go hand-in-hand with ethical considerations around working conditions in the producer countries.
TTA strongly supports the principles of free trade. The ability of retailers and distributors to offer their customers the best prices is important. However, TTA is aware there are considerations other than just price which should not be overlooked when sourcing tiles from overseas producers.
Tile importers are advised to have a checklist of possible areas of concern when they are working with overseas suppliers. These considerations might include:
- Does your proposed supplier use child labour?
- Does the factory produce to ISO standards?
- Are they a member of a relevant trade association?
- Do they operate sustainably and to set environmental standards? What energy sources do they use? What carbon footprint is involved in bringing products into the UK from there?
- Do they remunerate their workers fairly?
- Do they have good relations with their local community?
- Are the products priced realistically? Members should consider the viability of unsustainable low pricing for the long-term impact on the UK industry.
With regard to sustainability, TTA has already established that tiles can be a force for good, on account of their longevity and durability. It is also keen to help secure fair trade around the world, ensuring producers, communities and employees are able to work for a fair wage without being exploited. For this reason TTA asks all importer members to continue to carry out checks on where they are importing their tiles from.
There are resources available for members who wish to find out more about these issues. These include “BRE’s Responsible Sourcing Standard BES 6001”, which was set up in part by the Construction Products Association (CPA). It enables construction product manufacturers to ensure and then prove that their products have been made with constituent materials that have been responsibly sourced. Note that the country of origin should be printed on the back of a tile and on the edge – if it is not, then the tile doesn’t meet the standard BS EN 14411: 2016.
This advice, issued by TTA to its members, supports the core purpose of TTA – Building excellence in tiling and the tiled environment. Responsibly sourced, high-quality products help to ensure successful projects, increased customer satisfaction and better results for TTA members.