With over 25 million bags currently in circulation in the UK, Jutexpo’s ethically produced jute bags are fast becoming synonymous with the reusable bag movement. Jutexpo have established themselves as the market leaders in ethically produced reusable jute bags, supplying the major supermarkets, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, along with many councils, charities and retailers.
Jutexpo take the integrity of their bags very seriously, and use a concept they call ‘beyond the bag’ to ensure that this integrity is maintained. About three years ago they started on a detailed ethical auditing programme, using Intertek, an internationally recognised auditor, to audit to the SMETA audit standard. The audits use the ETI base code, which covers the fundamentals of ethical trading, such as health and safety, wages, working hours, child labour and discrimination. These audits are listed on SEDEX, the system used by all the major retailers to ensure transparency in the audit process. To further their detailed compliance, they are working to the British Retail Consortium Consumer Product Standards. This will strengthen their already high technical and quality standards.
Sam Turner, Jutexpo Operations Director, believes the strength of their supply has been the key to their success. “We have an exclusive partnership alliance with our colleagues in India. This has allowed us to develop the factories together, building an entirely new facility, and redeveloping another. Our two factories provide work to over 2,500 people. The commitment to our integrity stretches far beyond the basics of ethical trading, with provisions for both primary and secondary schools around the factory, and subsidised lunches for our staff. We have also worked to ensure that our supply chain is fully traceable, with all aspects of the bag production being under our control. This is unique within the market, and allows us to provide our customers with the utmost confidence.”
2008 was a great year for Jutexpo. They were finalists in the Barclays Green Leaders in Business awards, featured on BBC News, and BBC Working Lunch, and were visited by the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn, MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He expressed great interest in Jutexpo’s achievements and green credentials. He said: “Bags made from jute are a great example of using natural resources in a sustainable way, and I am very impressed by the environmentally friendly business I have seen today.”
2009 is looking to be successful. Plans are in process to expand the business into new markets, including Australia, USA, and to establish the business further in UAE and Europe. Sam Turner adds: “The plastic bag issue is a global one, but it is one we are all able to participate in. All we have to do is remember to use reusable bags.”