Ethical Sourcing

By: Sanctus Mundo  09-12-2011
Keywords: Food Grade

Ethical sourcing means ensuring that the products being sourced are created in safe facilities by workers who are treated well and paid fair wages to work legal hours. It also implies that the supplier is respecting the environment during the production and manufacture of the products.

This is an issue we take very seriously. We go to great lengths to ensure Sanctus Mundo products are ethically sourced. Some of the key details of our sourcing policies are laid out below with respect to environmental and labour criteria we consider when sourcing products.

Sanctus Mundo is a . is “a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to harnessing the economic power of consumers, investors and businesses to promote social justice and environmental sustainability.” The that we sport indicates we have gone through a rigorous screening process by the to ensure that we:

  • Focus on using business as a tool for positive social change.

  • Are "values-driven," as well as profit-driven.

  • Are socially and environmentally responsible in the way we source, manufacture, and market our products and run our facilities.

  • Are committed to and employ extraordinary and innovative practices that benefit: 1) workers, 2) communities, 3) customers, and 4) the environment.

When considering a new product, we look at it from several environmentally-related angles and ask the questions laid out below, which also have health-related criteria mixed in. We consider both positive screening criteria – i.e., desirable attributes – and negative screening criteria – i.e., undesirable attributes. We verify these criteria through discussions with the supplier in question, ideally in person with high level company representatives, and when possible during an on-site visit to the supplier's facilities. We seek to develop long-term trust relationships with suppliers who are actively and openly interested in helping the environment and who consider environmental criteria in the manufacture of their product(s).

Here are the environmentally-related questions we ask when deciding whether or not to source a product from a particular supplier:

The Product:

Material and Process

What is the environmental impact of the material and process used to make the product? (e.g., Are toxins released into the environment during manufacture? Is energy efficiency considered?)

What is the quality of the material and the final product? (e.g., Is it high quality food grade stainless steel, ideally 300 series, such as 304?

Do the independent test results meet our quality standards? (e.g., re lead, phthalates)

Other features

Does the product contain any plastic? What kind of plastic? Does it contain phthalates or bisphenol A? For food and drink containers, does the plastic come into contact with the conents of the container?

Is there paint? If so, what type of paint is used? For food and drink containers, does the paint come into contact with the conents of the container?

Is the product durable and well made? What is the level of quality of workmanship?

Can it be recycled at the end of it's functional life?

The Supplier:

Does the supplier follow all applicable environmental regulations in the country of operation?

Can the supplier meet our requirements for environmentally-friendly product packaging?

What environmental measures does the supplier, including the manufacturing facility, have in place (e.g., recycling, waste management, pollution control measures, emissions control measures)?

Does the supplier have an environmental management and/or quality management system in place (e.g., ISO14000, ISO9000) or any other environmental certifications?

Is the supplier interested in helping the environment? If so, how?

When considering a new product, we look at it from several labour-related angles and ask the questions laid out below. We consider both positive screening criteria – i.e., desirable attributes – and negative screening criteria – i.e., undesirable attributes. We verify these criteria through discussions with the supplier in question, ideally in person with high level company representatives, and when possible during an on-site visit to the supplier's facilities. We seek to develop long-term trust relationships with suppliers who respect their workers and provide safe, fair working conditions.

Here are the labour-related questions we ask when deciding whether or not to source a product from a particular supplier:

Does the supplier employ children to work at any of its facilities?

Is the workers freedom of movement unreasonably constrained by the supplier (e.g., is prison or “sweatshop” labour used)?

Do employees receive a fair wage for their work (at or above the national minimum wage)?

Do employees have reasonable work hours? What are the average work hours?

Are there safety precautions in place for workers? If so, what?

Are health benefits available for employees? If so, what?

What policies and/or management systems are in place to ensure worker health and safety?

What is the supplier's health and safety record?

Has the supplier been involved in any legal actions related to discrimination in the workplace or employment equity issues?

Do workers receive paid leave?

Are workers free to express their opinions and make suggestions to management?

Is there a profit-sharing program in place?

Does the supplier have any labour-related certifications (e.g. fair trade, social accountability, unionized)?

Is there anything else the supplier does to make the employees working conditions positive?

We are often asked if any of our products come from China. Currently, no Sanctus Mundo products are sourced from China. [Note: The country of origin for every single product we sell is clearly indicated near the bottom of each product description.]

We have made a conscious decision to be extremely careful about sourcing anything from China. This decision is based on environmental, labour and human rights reasons, and also for trust-related reasons flowing from previous experiences we have had with a former Chinese supplier and interactions with other Chinese suppliers. Regarding the former supplier, we had ordered a particular type of food container made of 100% food grade, 304 stainless steel and when we tested the initial sample received it was fine. All seemed fine. When the actual shipment arrived and we began selling the containers, we started getting complaints from customers that the clips holding on the lid of the container were rusting. Clearly, the clips were not made of stainless steel – or at least not the same quality as the rest of the container. The company did send us replacements for one detachable part of the clip, but they never really acknowledged the problem or admitted any wrongdoing.

We have deep respect for the Chinese people and their rich culture and history. Our main problem is with the repressive dictatorship that is the Chinese government, and its sometimes questionable environmental, labour and human rights records. There are many examples to choose from to illustrate the problems, but a few big ones include the widespread ongoing use of coal-fired energy, the invasion of Tibet, the continuing oppression of the Tibetan people and the ongoing persecution of other minorities in China, such as the Uyghur people and practitioners of the Falun Gong/Falun Dafa belief system.

Keywords: Food Grade

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