There are some products, in the construction industry, that need no explanation, when it comes to sustainability. Energy efficient products or those manufactured entirely from recycled materials, can often claim green credentials easily, with little effort or innovation required. But, in a time of climate emergency, where every individual and business must play their part, finding sustainable practices applied in the less obvious suppliers and products is all the more impressive.
One such example, is RMS Traders – a family-owned business supplying stone, tiles and pavers. Here, managers, one of the company’s founders, explains how their business is contributing towards a more environmentally responsible industry.
Please tell me about your experience and current role at RMS Traders
We’re a family-owned business and, over the last 35 years, I’ve been lucky to see us slowly grow from humble beginnings into the successful business we have today. I’ve grown-up in this company and while my job title is ‘Manager’, I wear many different hats and my role changes from one day to the next, depending on what needs to be done. Predominantly, I oversee sourcing and procurement of our stones, as well as the marketing side of the business. I also travel quite a bit, as being able to physically view the raw material overseas, before we import, enables us to keep a close eye on the quality and values we set.
Why is sustainability important to RMS Traders?
Sustainability should be important to everyone right now – and we’re no different. We’ve already handed this business down through generations, and we can’t continue to do that unless we – along with every other business – try to reduce our carbon footprint and impact on mother nature.
We source a lot of our stone from India and other countries where poverty and the impacts of climate change are very visible. In these countries, air pollution and scarcity of fresh water are part of everyday life; seeing that brings the importance of sustainability to the fore. It’s also by visiting our suppliers in these countries that you can see, first-hand, opportunities to improve sustainability not just at home but at the source of the supply chain. For example, what we consider an acceptable amount of waste may not be the same as our supplier; when we realised that waste was an issue, we created the ROS tile pattern, enabling us to use both large and small pieces of stone, minimising stone wastage in our suppliers’ factories.
Why are you sponsoring this year?
We want to showcase our achievements so far in making our business more sustainable, as an example to others. Sustainable practices can be applied to every corner of this industry – the important thing is to start somewhere and then keep striving to improve.
How does RMS Traders put its sustainability principles into practice?
We’ve looked at every aspect of our business to try to make gains that, hopefully, will make a big cumulative impact on our carbon footprint. At our offices, we have solar panels to reduce energy consumption and at our overseas manufacturing plants we harvest rainwater as well as recycle water used in stone cutting and processing. We’ve managed to reduce the amount of timber used in our packaging by 50% and we purchase office supplies that are recycled (and then ensure these are also recycled). We’ve made efforts to reduce our stone wastage with initiatives such as the ROS pattern (mentioned previously), as well as using wastage materials for cobbles, stone feature panels or crushed for use as aggregate in road bases and concrete pavers. We’re also focusing on ensuring we support sustainable practices; for example, we don’t support use of river pebbles – which can damage wildlife and local ecosystems – but we have recently partnered with Offset Earth to help support initiatives that offset our carbon footprint further. In fact, through this partnership, we’ve officially been climate positive for more than 8 months!
What are your future plans?
A big focus for us will be to extend the success we’ve already seen in minimising product wastage. We’re planning to expand the ROS pattern across more product ranges and we’re also looking at entirely new product options, such as ‘hand-tumbled pebbles’. These pebbles are off-cuts and wastage from production; we sort through the wastage and then start a heavy tumbling process to create an entirely new product from off-cuts. We’re also using new techniques, such as hand chopping and rounding to create a new, naturally rounded crazy paving product from our limestone wastage.
See more from RMS Traders here