Colors & Effects - BASF’s brand focused on pigments - has chosen to demonstrate its commitment to sustainably sourced natural mica flakes in a video tour providing visual insights on how the material is sourced.
Given the increased awareness of unethical mica mining operations in India, Pakistan and other parts of the world, involving child labor in conditions sometimes compared to slavery, the pigments specialist has chosen to provide customers with full transparency about its in-house sourcing from its wholly owned mine located in Hartwell, Georgia, U.S.A.
According to a March 2018 report from the Switzerland-based nongovernmental organization Terre des Hommes (TDH), an estimated 22,000 children work in mica mines in India, where about a quarter of the world’s supply is extracted. Mica is used to make products like cosmetics and paints shimmer. But its qualities - including perfect cleavage, flexibility, elasticity, chemical inertness, infusibility, low thermal and electrical conductivity, and high dielectric strength - explain the wide use of the mineral across many sectors, including the electronics industry. However, India’s mica belt - mainly the states of Jharkhand and Bihar - is among the poorest regions in the country and has high rates of illiteracy and unemployment.
BASF’s Colors & Effects claims to source 100% of its natural mica flake used for the production of effects pigments for the coatings, plastics, printing and cosmetic industries from their own mine in the U.S.A. “The controlled, North American based supply chain that tracks mica from source to supply, enables the guarantee for zero child labor and a deep focus on preserving the environment,” explains Colors & Effects.
A video tour of the mine is therefore available on the Colors & Effects website to provide insights about mining practices in Hartwell and the people behind.
“Compliance with internationally agreed labor standards, including the abolition of child labor, is a fundamental cornerstone of the Colors & Effects operations. As one of the leading pigments suppliers globally, Colors & Effects takes responsibility to drive important discussions in key industry networks fostering sustainable solutions,” claims the BASF division.
According toTDH, the cosmetics industry buys 18 per cent of the world’s mica production, ranking 5th behind the electronics industry (26 per cent), paints and coatings (24 per cent), and construction (20 per cent).