- * The organisation behind Child Labor Free has ceased offering accreditation renewal, effective December 2020. -
This month we were honoured to have become Child Labor Free certified to the manufacturing level for a specific range of products. But what is Child Labor Free all about and what does it mean to the consumer?
Being part of the global B Corporation movement has made us constantly analyse our Corporate Social Responsibility and how we can improve ourselves to use business as a force for good; labour laws and transparent supply chains being a huge part of that investigation. Making a difference is the sole reason Eagle Protect started.
A report conducted by the British Medical Association stated that the manufacture of disposable gloves is a large global industry that produces in the region of 150 billion pairs of glove per year, with a market value of over USD $5 billion. Disposable gloves are primarily used in the healthcare and food industries, with the leading regions of export to the USA, EU, and Japan.
Factories manufacturing disposable gloves are largely found in Malaysia and Thailand, with a handful of other Asian countries, and are reliant on migrant workers even child labour.
The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. Every child has a right to a childhood. Millions of children worldwide are being denied this right.
Shockingly, an International Labour Organization (ILO) prepared report estimates that over 150 million children aged between 5 and 17 between 2012 and 2016, were subject to child labour. In the least developed countries, nearly one in four children (ages five to 14) are engaged in labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development. One in four modern-day slaves are under 18 years old. These children will grow up without an education and into a life of poverty. With no Modern Slavery Act in New Zealand, these products are potentially entering the New Zealand market.
Child labour remains endemic and its elimination requires both economic and social reform as well as the active cooperation of all those active cooperation of governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, enterprises, international organizations, and civil society at large. (Source)
What Is Being Done About This?
The organisation Child Labor Free started in New Zealand with founders Michelle Pratt and Nikki Prendergast - education experts with a lifetime of experience in early childhood, health and software development. Their journey was born from a startling fact at the heart of their business operation:
”The toys we sourced for our early childhood centres could in fact have been made by children.”
With the lifelong commitment to ensuring positive outcomes for children in their care, Michelle & Nikki set about creating a global certification system that assesses a brand's supply chain and certifies products and manufacturers as child labour free. This certification process independently inspects and analyses companies and their supply chains for the use of child labour across all product categories. Child Labor Free is a social enterprise that provides commercial value to companies through a certification mark, using the license fees of this program to prevent and remediate children in labour.
Child Labor Free has three stages of accreditation:
“Manufacture,” means the activity, process and method of assembling, processing and adding value to Components and any other raw materials from any Source, which are not themselves Components, to create Certifiable Good(s).
“Component,” means an item part or component of a Certifiable Good, and the process of creating that item part or component from materials obtained at Source, for use in the Manufacturing of a Certifiable Good. For avoidance of doubt, the packaging of a Certifiable Good will be deemed a Component of that Certifiable Good.
- “Source,” means the activity, process and method of growing, gathering, collecting and/or collating raw materials, and the raw materials themselves, used as an input for Manufacturing of a Component and/or a Certifiable Good.
This certification provides brands and consumers with a globally recognised mark of certainty. Products certified with the Child Labor Free mark provides assurance that brands carrying that mark are committed to operating ethically and ensuring their business is free of child labour.
Child Labor Free is a simple concept to a complex problem. Empower consumers to recognise brands that do not use child labour, and support brands to ensure child labour does not exist in their supply chains.
The global supply chains that produce and deliver products internationally are complex. Many companies don’t know that children are involved in the production of their goods, hidden in complex supply chains, which are never openly discussed at a consumer level.
These certification marks clearly demonstrates to consumers that the certified brand is committed to working through their supply chain to ensure there is no child labor being used in the production of their products.
There is no debate that working to end child labour is the ethical thing to do. The question quickly turns to, “Can we do it”? Ethically sourced products are likely to cost a bit more. Will consumers pay for the additional costs incurred by “doing the right thing”?
In fact, the Child Fund Survey of American Opinions on Child Labor (2013) states…
75% of consumers would be willing to change their shopping habits in response to the use of child labor. While 88% of global consumers want companies to tell them what they are doing to operate responsibly and support important issues.
While brands make this journey, ultimately, it’s the consumer who decides whether they purchase ethically. With recent articles highlighting human rights issues especially in the fast fashion industry, consumers are now more aware of where their products are being made. They care and are now looking for brands and organisations that do too. The power to change this lies with consumers.
Accredited certifications like Child Labor Free clearly demonstrates to consumers that brands are committed to working through their supply chain to ensure there is no child labour being used in the production of any of their products or service.
What Is Eagle Doing To Be Child Labor Free?
Eagle underwent a rigorous fifteen-month process in pursuit of the Child Labor Free certification mark. We are delighted to have been accredited the Child Labor Free certification to the manufacturing level for a specific range of products. The certification process was a multilayered and holistic process in which third-party assessment partners analysed brand and supplier information through on-site manufacturing inspections and desktop reviews, and evaluated it against a comprehensive risk matrix.
“We are extremely proud to be a part of the movement to end child labour,” said Steve Ardagh, Eagle Protect Founder and CEO, “and like Child Labor Free, we too believe every child has a right to a childhood. Many companies don’t know that children are involved in the production of their goods because of their complex supply chain. We hope more businesses join us in the journey towards Child Labor Free through a focus on ethical sourcing and supply chain transparency.”
Our suppliers have all signed codes of conduct which include clauses that exclude the use of child and indentured labour. We visit our suppliers regularly to ensure they are adhering to the code. Without being prompted we made a conscious decision to support the Child Labor Free organisation. It was important to us that we had third-party verification in behind our own work.
We undertook this journey because we are committed to transparency in our supply chain. Sourcing our range of disposable gloves and clothing responsibly also provides assurance to your business, protecting your brand and your reputation. We safeguard what matters.
Eagle Protect also became New Zealand’s first certified B Corporation® in 2012 and we are the world’s first and only disposable glove and clothing specialists to earn this distinction. Now, achieving Child Labor Free accreditation proves even further that we are truly serious about using business as a force for good and have set the standards for other disposable glove & PPE suppliers to follow.
When you purchase product from us you are supporting us in maintaining a child labour free workforce in our factories.