The World Economic Forum recently published research suggesting consumers in a few key emerging market producer countries (Indonesia and Brazil) and importing countries (China and India) together account for 40% of global consumption of the four commodities most associated with tropical deforestation—soy, beef, palm, and wood products. The authors project that by 2025 demand for these commodities within these four countries could increase by 43%, resulting in forest areas equivalent to the size of Nigeria being cut down every. Increasing demand for meat and calorie-rich foods, regulatory changes, and shifts in constraints for domestic production will all be key factors in fueling demand in these emerging market economies.
The Forest Trust have released a short video on their Respect programme which aims to address human rights issues in agricultural supply chains. It discusses some of the issues on plantations in Indonesia and in the manufacturing sector in China, and the worker-focused solutions they are implementing to tackle them.
The article introduces the shortage of skilful (mid to high level) workers in printing industry due to the decreasing graduates in this major from universities and vocational schools in China. Universities and vocational school has less students applying for the printing major, some universities have even cut out the printing major, while the others try to change the name of the major from ‘printing’ to ‘digital media’, ‘image propagation’ and ‘propagation engineering’ but still losing attraction to young people.
The main reason is the overall attraction of the labour-intensive manufacturing industry is decreasing in China due to the rise of internet and service industries, which means more opportunities for young people. The stereotype of printing industry is another reason. Although printing industry is moving forward into digital era, in many people’s mind, printing industry is still a ‘uncool’ traditional industry lagging behind, plus the recent increasing news on its environmental impact since the new environmental protection law, the industry’s image needs to be improved. The last reason is the most practical one – average salary level of printing industry is not competitive compared to other industries. The article gives some statistics: in 2016, the average employee salary of 8,936 publication printing companies is RMB 3,742/month, which is lower than the national average level in all industries (RMB 4,783). Even for the senior management, the salary is not competitive compared with the internet and finance industries.
The publishing initiative run by Carnstone, The Book Chain Project, held its second Asia Summit on 24th of April in Shenzhen, China. It was an opportunity for all the stakeholders in the paper and pulp industry to get together to discuss the latest developments in responsible fibre sourcing. Among the 70 delegates there were paper mills, printers, publishers, retailers, timber experts, and NGOs. The aim of the Summit was to discuss the latest developments on responsible forest sourcing and to share best practice. Further reading and speakers’ slides: https://bookchainproject.com/news
Invisible coercion through withheld wages, lack of employment contracts, and discrimination of migrant workers is widespread in China's construction sector. Wage arrears protests have been booming in the months leading up to the New Year on 16 February. Far from every protest gets violent, but when they do, losses are bigger than just the annual pay.
Forced labour among ordinary workers on China’s ordinary labour market receives vanishing little attention from the inter¬national community.
European Commission releases its 2017 report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products. In 2017, 'toys' was notified as product with the most risk (29%), followed by 'motor vehicles' (20%), and 'clothing, textiles and fashion items' (12%).
The majority of dangerous products notified in the system came from outside the EU. China is the number one country of origin, but the number of alerts remains stable at 53% (1,155) in 2017, same as the year before. The Commission continues to cooperate closely with Chinese authorities, working together to discuss specific cases and implement actions, such as exchange of good practices. Dangerous products of European origin accounted for 413 notifications (26%).
Promising Future Project will be lunched in February in 2018 for suppliers in Book Chain Project. Promising Future Project is a 10-brand initiative carried out in 2016 and 2017 to promote interest in China’s social insurance scheme by factory workers. The project was created and delivered by Carnstone Asia, and supported by the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Hong Kong office. Phase 1 of Promising Future included the production of a 12-minute drama about the story of a worker called Xiao Li and her journey to find out about the benefits of joining social insurance, and the risks if she doesn’t. It also included creation of this information website for workers, and a factory manager webinar.
The Summit is going to take place on Tuesday 24th April 2018, which brings together organisations across the pulp, paper and publishing supply chain. The Summit will focus on learning about the latest developments in responsible forest sourcing, and an opportunity to share practical advice for paper makers on sourcing fibre responsibly. A wide range of attendees including paper mills from across Asia, participating publishers of Book Chain, NGO’s, representatives from certification schemes (FSC and CFCC) and technology providers will be invited. To register for the event, please sign up here.
An Iranian oil tanker that collided with a Hong Kong bulk freighter in the East China Sea is creating a new problem now that it has sunk. The oil tanker was carrying close to 150,000 tons of condensate, a light oil, when it crashed. It is unclear how much of the oil had burned off or spilled when it sank. Unlike crude oil, which can create chronic environmental problems by sinking to the deep ocean and lingering there for years, hydrocarbon condensate is much lighter, evaporating or dissolving into water. That means short-term toxicity might be a bigger concern with this spill.
the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in the U.S. and the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) in China launched the IPE Green Supply Chain Map, the only tool in the world to openly link leading multinational corporations to their suppliers’ environmental performance. Based on publicly available data from the Chinese government, IPE’s database and map provide real-time data and historical trends in air pollution emissions and wastewater discharge for nearly 15,000 major industrial facilities in China and access to environmental supervision records for over half a million more.
Major fashion brands are sourcing viscose from factories in China, Indonesia and India which are polluting and damaging health, according to new report. The report cites evidence that carbon disulphide exposure is harming both factory workers and people living near viscose plants. Residential areas nearby the factory are polluted with carbon disulphide levels three times higher than the permitted limit. The report is calling for carbon disulphide to be completely eradicated from the viscose production process, and for all viscose production to occur in a closed loop system which eradicates chemical discharge and prevents harm to workers and the environment. Spokespeople from those brands said they will work continuously with its suppliers to improve conditions and ensure that they adhere to sustainable practices.
A meeting between forestry representatives from Cameroon, Congo and China took place earlier this year, aimed at strengthening legality within the forestry sector and the international trade in timber. Participants agreed on the development of a forest control and verification system for timber from Cameroon and Congo heading to China; the need for capacity building based on a good knowledge of forest resources and monitoring tools; and the need to maintain ongoing co-operation and dialogue among stakeholders in Africa and China for more effective forest governance throughout the supply chain.
China is cutting the number of products whose manufacturing requires official licensing. The 19 categories include water pipes and rechargeable batteries. The manufacturing licenses required for electric blankets and helmets for motorists are giving way to China Compulsory Certification. It is pivotal to the upgrading of the real economy and pose higher requirements to enterprises to ensure the quality of products.
China’s National Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently consulted on a draft list of substance restrictions in consumer products. The list combines a number of existing Chinese standards and, where no domestic standard exists, it refers to restrictions based on EU and other foreign legislation. The draft is similar to the consumer restrictions set out in REACH Annex XVII - includes 103 chemicals and proposes limit values for their use in consumer products, such as toys, textiles, coatings, paints, decoration materials and furniture.
Thousands of angered villagers protested in the northern Chinese province of Hebei on 3 May after a leak at a chemical plant called Hebei Xingfei Chemical Co. factory near Xingtai city releases toxic gases into the air. Residents of several villages near the site reported vomiting and fainting, while thousands have gathered outside the factory gates, blocking the road and demanding the plant's relocation for the past few days. Local officials have called on protesters to wait for environmental tests to be completed before they take a decision about how to deal with the factory.
Zambian government has announced a ban on all “In Transit” timber within the country. 17 species of timber have been specified within the official Statutory Instrument, with the most notable inclusions pertaining to Pterocarpus chrysothrix (mukula)—a threatened species most commonly sourced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The decision addresses ongoing international concerns that the country is being exploited by smuggling networks to transport timber to lucrative markets overseas, with primary destinations including China and Vietnam.
An unannounced inspection by officials from China’s top environment watchdog at a factory in eastern China ended with an unexpected turn of events for all involved, as inspectors were obstructed from performing their duties and later blocked from leaving. The incident happened at a furnace maker in Jinan City, Shandong province, called Shandong Lüjie Environmental Protection Energy Saving Technology Co. Ltd. The manager identified had stopped the team from doing their work, citing “problematic” government identification cards, according to a statement on the Weibo microblog of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).
China has completely banned the felling of natural forests for commercial purposes, according to the State Forestry Administration (SFA). China had previously made a three-step plan to phase out deforestation, starting with the worst deforested areas and setting the end of 2017 as the deadline for a complete national halt on deforestation. China will step up efforts to plan and establish 20 national forest reserves in seven key areas, in hopes of reducing the country's dependence on timber imports to less than 30 percent by 2030.
A study shows that recycled plastics from electrical and electronic goods used in toy manufacturing which contains brominated flame retardants is putting the health of children exposed to them at risk. Brominated flame-retarding chemicals have been associated with lower mental, psychomotor and IQ development, poorer attention spans and decreases in memory and processing speed. In February EU restrict the use of one such substance, DecaBDE, but also allowed exemptions. Meanwhile, the substances may still be found in imported products that have been recycled in countries like China, which means buying something on the market because the company likes the design then they may bring products into the EU that contain substances that are not allowed.
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.