Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’.
Set against panoramic views of the WWT London Wetlands Centre, we gathered together 11 speakers covering 5 sessions, and invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers to attend. Altogether, we had a packed room with over 60 people in attendance and speakers from a variety of companies.
The speakers covered various topics including; the economics behind recent pulp price rises; the various pressures on mill groups around the world; deforestation hotpots and NGO efforts to keep corporate commitments on track. We also dedicated a session to the issue of plastic where we had the lead Plastics Campaign manager from Friends of the Earth examining the different recyclable alternatives available and how these options could be implemented into the book making industry. In addition to that, with pressure to tackle human rights abuses in all supply chains from the Modern Slavery statements, we ran a session on human rights and heard some hard-hitting examples of corporate engagement to correct previous abuses with the help of the Forest Peoples Programme.
The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’. There are 60 people from invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers in attendance. 11 speakers from a variety of companies talked about topics on pulp price rising, mill pressures, deforestation hotpots, plastic issues and modern slavery etc. The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
Labour agencies often play an important role in providing temporary workers to suppliers during peak times, helping you to avoid excessive working hours for supplier staff. But they also pose the modern slavery risks in their supply chains. In responding to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and to help you reduce the modern slavery risks in the supplier chains. The Book Chain Project developed a Labour Agency Modern Slavery Checklist (“the Checklist”) to ensure that agency workers are not at risk from modern slavery. The members of the Book Chain project need your help to prevent modern slavery in the supply chain.
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 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.
The Marketplace, launched by NGO ChemSec on 17 May, hosts marketing materials from suppliers and requests for products, as well as guidance and case studies on substitution. It makes it easier for businesses to find less problematic alternatives to toxic chemicals. Both the ChemSec and other initiatives had hitherto focused on informing the industry of what not to use, as described in its ‘SIN list’, rather than suggesting suitable substitutes. The Marketplace should help improve the visibility of alternatives.
An imitation Rubik’s Cube sold in bargain stores in the UK has been found to contain significant amounts of banned flame retardants. Tests conducted by chemical campaign network, IPEN, found that three ‘Magic Cube' toys contained octaBDE, a commercial mixture of hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether. The Magic Cube toys were bought from three independent shops in London, which have since been shut down. One of their suppliers remains active, but the publication (ENDS) was unable to make contact with them.
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 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.
Two of the world’s leading electronics brands, are facing allegations that workers in their supply chains are being duped, exploited and underpaid in Malaysia, after a Guardian investigation found that Nepalese migrant workers making goods for the global electronics brands claimed to be trapped and exploited. Both Samsung and Panasonic have said they are opening investigations into the conduct of their suppliers following the claims.
Following a multistakeholder discussion the Indonesian government, starting next year, has agreed to simplify the process for the country’s mandatory timber verification system (SVLK). This decision came after rising verification costs could have made certification too expensive for smaller operators. The plans aim to ask suppliers to include supply-conformity declarations, known as DKPs, on their overseas shipments, which will be free of charge. These declarations normally include basic information such as the four-digit commodity ID code, volume of product, type of timber, and sources of timber supply to ensure legality. The government has also pledged financial aid for SMEs if they are prepared to be certified in groups. The Indonesian authorities are trying to encourage growth in their export market while also responding to environmental concerns from major purchasing markets such as the European Union.
Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a long-time target of environmental campaigners, committed in February 2013 to protect and restore a million hectares of forest across Indonesia under its Forest Conservation Policy. This video presented by Tony Juniper, an advisor to APP, highlights key aspects of the policy. The policy requires its suppliers to not only protect natural forest resources, but also biodiversity and human rights. APP has worked with The Forest Trust (TFT) to help develop and implement the policy. And the company has adopted the High Conservation Value (HCV) assessment, developed by the Forest Stewardship Council, to ensure the values of natural forest are fully understood. APP is also adopting High Carbon Stock (HCS) survey to understand the location of big stocks of carbon. The restoration commitment of APP targets nine “landscape” across Sumatra and Kalimantan, regions where the company sources its fibre.
Asia Pulp and Paper have signed an agreement to end natural forest logging. Suppliers of the Indonesian based company will be bound to log solely plantation timber and not use timber with high conservation value or from peat swamps. AP&P have received widespread lobbying from Greenpeace and WWF to change their timber sourcing policies. However, it is understood the company’s real fear was that paper mills in Japan were beginning to ask questions about responsibly sourced timber.
According to a letter signed by signed by Huma, Forest Peoples Program, Rainforest Action Network, Wahana Bumi Hijau, Scale Up, Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Jambi, Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Riau, and Pusaka, APRIL’s new forest policy allows the company to continue destroying rainforests and peatlands for industrial plantations. The letter highlights a dozen concerns over APRIL's policy, including a lack of a moratorium on natural forest conversion, failure to identify and protect high carbon stock (HCS) areas, and unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts and embracing the concept of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from affected local communities. It also says that the policy appears to not apply to APRIL’s sister companies or suppliers. The letter comes days after Greenpeace documented APRIL-owned PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper destroying peat forest on Pulau Padang, an island off Sumatra. In response to the report, APRIL said the clearing was in line with its forest conservation policy.
The second largest US grocery chain, Safeway, has established a policy that excludes deforestation-linked palm oil from its products. Safeway is asking its suppliers to implement social and environmental criteria that ensure the palm oil it uses in branded products is “free of deforestation, free of expansion on carbon-rich peat lands…” Safeway’s move was immediately welcomed by the Rainforest Action Network, which has been campaigning to push American companies to demand greener palm oil.
A report from the UK- and US-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has said that up to 80% of the hardwood harvested in the Russian far east is logged illegally. The EIA say the demand for this material comes from Chinese sawmills and subsequently their western customers. The material that is of most concern is illegally logged Russian oak. US wood flooring retailer, Lumber Liquidators, was named in the report as being heavily reliant on Chinese suppliers who allegedly mainly sell illegally logged material. The EIA say the US and EU regulations on illegal logging are important pressure points where they now have the ability to intervene – before now, and without this pressure, illegal logging in Siberia has seen rapid expansion. Despite industry incentives from the Russian government, incredible demand from China has led to Chinese sawmills establishing just over the China-Russia border. EIA’s investigations suggest that most of these mills rely on a supply of illegally logged timber.
TFT published the following statement on their website with the full report: ‘TFT has carried out a thorough technical study into alleged allegations of APP suppliers clearing forest in West Kalimantan Province and has produced the below report which shows no evidence of any violation of APP's forest clearance moratorium.’
A new Eyes on the Forest report accuses Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) of continuing to destroy large areas of rainforests and peatlands despite a commitment to end natural forest logging by 2009. The report draws links between APRIL’s wood suppliers and their obtaining of cutting licences from officials who have been convicted of corruption offences and are now serving custodial sentences. In response APRIL has acknowledged that it continues to clear natural forest but claims that all licences were issued prior to the moratorium in 2011, hence making the company compliant with Indonesian law.
Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) Charts a Course to World-Class Industry Standards in Sustainable Business
Press release from APP promoting its Sustainability Roadmap for 2020. Key milestones will include having the capacity to be wholly reliant on raw materials from plantations by 2015; all current APP suppliers operating by the High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) standards by 2015; and all current suppliers having credible certification for Sustainable Forest Management by 2020.