The Co-op has announced to offer jobs to victims of the modern slave trade as part of a new scheme. The group has teamed up with charity City Hearts, which offers support and accommodation to vulnerable people, to provide 30 survivors of modern slavery with paid work experience in its food business. Following the placement, the survivors will be given a non-competitive interview and, if it is successful and a position is vacant, be offered a job.
China's food packaging regulations, announced in November 2016, will take effect on 19 October this year. Violations can result in fines of 20 times the commodity value for manufacturers or importers using unapproved materials, and up to ten times the value for food producers or operators using non-compliant products. However, the clearances for food contact materials (FCMs) could be very different from the substances approved in the EU – many substances currently permitted in the US and Europe are not yet cleared under the Chinese system.
Hivos and Greenpeace Netherlands, together with indigenous groups from the Amazon rainforest, are launching a new campaign against deforestation called ‘All eyes on the Amazon’. Studies show that indigenous communities living in rainforests are crucial to the sustainable protection of these areas. This programme will aim to give indigenous communities the tools, knowledge and contacts to combat deforestation. It will also use satellite technology and drone photography to give indigenous groups evidence of the deforestation that is occurring.
H&M is planning to have elected committees and proper pay structures for workers in its main supply factories across the world by 2018 in a bid to curb labour exploitation. By setting up these goals, the company is planning to work with its main suppliers to ensure wages for its 1.6 million garment workers are enough to afford a decent living and enable workers to raise their voices in a meaningful way with management by implementing capacity building programmes.
A report by WWF and ISEAL has stated that standards for supply chains and businesses can help accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while delivering direct benefits for companies and small-scale producers. These benefits can include minimising risk, efficiency gains, and improved transparency throughout the supply chain.
The European Commission has published Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/227 amending Annex XVII to REACH Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006. The Regulation introduces a new restriction on the use of the flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) under entry 67 of Annex XVII of REACH. This Regulation shall be effective from 02 March 2017, and the condition of the restrictions for this substance shall be accomplished by 02 March 2019. Please click here to learn more about the condition of restriction listed under entry 67 of Annex XVII of REACH.
Unilever US has announced plans to provide consumers with information about specific fragrance ingredients, used in its personal care products. The company has also announced plans to launch a webpage called What’s In Our Products. This will provide additional information, including its approach to developing safe products, explanation of ingredient types and answers to common questions on SmartLabel. NGOs said it’s game-changing for the personal care industry but criticised the plan for not including a full list of all fragrance ingredients.
A new report revealed that children as young as 14 years old have been employed in garment factories in Myanmar supplying some of the most popular UK high street brands. Researchers also found overtime problem and wages below the full legal minimum at some of these factories. Brands have responded to the report findings, recognising the issues highlighted and promising to work with their suppliers on improvement.
A report by World Economic Forum and Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 states that the transfer to deforestation-free supply chains could represent an investment opportunity of approximately US$ 200 billion annually. However, although companies are making commitments to deforestation-free pulp and paper in their supply chain, due to the underestimation of the risk, they may have issues meeting their time bound commitments.
Norway has donated $100 million to start a fund to halt deforestation, with Unilever being the first corporate investor to the fund pledging $25 million over five years. This was announced at the World Economic Forum and the fund’s aim is to ‘safeguard more than 5 million hectares of peatlands and forests’. This fund was created under the ‘Tropical Forest Alliance 2020’ umbrella which brings together leaders of public institutions and private companies to eliminate deforestation from supply chains.
WWF-Vietnam and the Center for People and Forests have launched a joint project under the “Responsible Asia Forestry & Trade” (RAFT) Partnership on sustainable forest management, focusing on classifying and identifying timber for international trade. Viet Nam is also at the final stage of signing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU.
Three NGOs in US have filed a lawsuit to compel the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to finalise a rule banning five phthalates in children’s products. The commission issued a proposed rule in late 2014 to ban five phthalates in children’s toys, at levels greater than 0.1%. They were diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP); di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP); di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP); dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP); and diisononyl phthalate (DINP). The CPSC was required to publish the final rule within 180 days of the CHAP’s report on 14 January 2015. But the lawsuit states that the agency has missed this deadline by almost two years.
The Member State Committee (MSC) unanimously agreed on the identification of four substances of very high concern (SVHCs): bisphenol A, PFDA, PTAP and 4-HPbl. ECHA will include these substances in the Candidate List in January 2017.
One subsidiary of Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (April), Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (Rapp), has constructed a 3km canal through thick peatland on the island of Pedang, Indonesia, which has led to the suspension of their partnership with WWF and Greenpeace. The canal is built for draining peatland for pulp plantations, which is against both the company’s sustainability standards, and also government regulations. However, the president and director of Rapp insisted the action is legal based on a plan approved by the Indonesian government back in 2013, which was before the catastrophic fires of 2015.
A new CDP study released that a substantive portion, 24% on average, of the revenue of 187 international companies depend upon commodities linked with deforestation, which are cattle products, palm oil, soy and timber products. Moreover, only about 40% of the studied companies have evaluated how the availability or quality of these commodities can impact their business growth strategy over the next five or more years. However, on the positive side, more and more companies become to recognize the benefits in scaling up their forest-protection efforts.
Vietnam has largely succeeded in reforestation within its border. Started in the 1980s, accompanying the transition to a market-driven economy, forestry management moved to a multi-sector approach with NGOs, businesses, local communities and management boards involved from originally government control. In 2008, Vietnam become a REDD pilot country, and both Forest Trends and FAO have recorded the increase in forest cover in Vietnam. However, challenge still exits. The demand for wood products in Vietnam is high, and now the country imports much from Cambodia, where illegal and unsustainable loggings happen frequently.
According to the new report released by The international policy organization (Interpol), corruption in the forestry sector globally costs about $29 billion annually, with bribery as the most common form. The study finds that the forestry sector is particularly vulnerable to corruption as many forests since many forests are located in placed where governance and regulatory regimes are poor. Also, the point when corruption occurs most frequently is at the harvest, identified in another study Interpol collaborated with TREES project. Recommendations including policy and legislative reforms, capacity building, financial investigations, and Interpol anti-corruption investigators were provided to reduce the risk of corruption in forestry operations.
President of Indonesia signed into law on Dec. 1, a new crucial regulation on peatland management, intending to call time on untrammelled commercial development of the archipelago’s vast peat swamp zones, which have been widely drained and dried by the palm oil and paper industries. The new regulation was praised by some observers as previously peatland development was only mandated by presidential guidelines. However, environmental pressure groups said that the new regulation may continue to trigger fires and the collapse of peat ecosystems. Greenpeace and Wetlands International say the government has not done enough to move on from destructive land use.
Two organizations, Woodland Trust and Confer, warn that England now is cutting down more trees than planting in the possibly 40 years. They pointed out that England is already one of Europe’s least wooded countries, and the government is missing its target to plant 11 million trees in the UK in the lifetime of this parliament. The UK government responded that the woodland cover was at its highest level since the 14th century, and planting rates vary from year to year. The Woodland Trust, Confor and large commercial forestry groups call on the government to commit to planting 7,000 hectares of woodland every year until 2020 and then to increase planting to 10,000 hectares a year.
Australia haven’t had a palm oil labelling in place after a proposal requiring palm oils to be specifically listed on food labels under consideration by Australia and New Zealand ministers for more than five years. Environmentalists warn that the repeated delays in Australia on mandatory palm oil labelling allows deforestation and the destruction of orangutan habitats.