The Australian Modern Slavery Act passed in December 2018. The Act sets a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement to require certain large businesses and other entities in Australia to make annual public reports - Modern Slavery Statements - on their actions to address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains.
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’.
Pressure to meet fast fashion deadlines is leading to women working in Asian factories supplying Gap and H&M being sexually and physically abused, according to two separate reports published by Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in garment supply chains. More than 540 female workers at factories that supply the Gap and H&M have described incidents of threats and abuse. The reports claim that these allegations recorded between January and May this year in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, are a direct result of pressure for quick turnarounds and low overheads. Gap and H&M are going to investigate the allegations and they welcome initiatives to tackle violence, including an ILO convention.
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.
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.
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.
The first session included speakers from Carnstone, Chronicle Books, and Donnelly, who shared their understanding on forest sourcing and provided the customer perspective. Next, WWF introduced their work on increasing demand of certified and recycled paper products. IKEA also presented their forest traceability system. Then, IPE and China Water Risk provided their insights on industrial pollution and the water-use pressures present in China.
The next session focused on three major paper mills; UPM, APP and Chenming Paper, sharing their response to the growing expectations and regulations around paper manufacturing. This panel was also joined by TFT who shared their insights on how mills can develop and implement sustainable sourcing systems and encourage engagement further up the supply chain.
The certification schemes, FSC and CFCC, explained how they are evolving to ensure transparency and traceability in global forest supply chains. And the event closed with practical sessions from the Carnstone team, who guided mills and printers to get the most from the online Book Chain Project database. Printers and mills had an opportunity to ask questions, share feedback, and offer ideas and improvements for the future.
Speakers’ slides: https://bookchainproject.com/event?event=5
IPE’s Companies environmental performance monitoring database: http://www.ipe.org.cn/IndustryRecord/Regulatory.aspx?keycode=343j9f9ri329293r3rixxx
China Water Risk website: http://chinawaterrisk.org/
An introduction to FSC certification scheme: https://v.qq.com/x/page/g0639hql3zp.html
A report by WRI shows ongoing deforestation in an oil palm concession in Papua, Indonesia, operated by a subsidiary of South Korea’s POSCO Daewoo. The company has responded by saying its operations in Papua are legal and fully permitted.
Concerns over deforestation by POSCO Daewoo have prompted other companies to say they will not allow its palm oil into their supply chains. These include big-name brands such as Clorox, Colgate Palmolive, IKEA, L’Oreal, Mars and Unilever. POSCO Daewoo has issued a temporary moratorium on land clearing in its Papua concession and hired a consultant to advise it on how to proceed with its operations there.
Plantation firms like Asia Pulp & Paper and Toba Pulp Lestari have a history land tenure issues, but more recently they have pledged to eliminate the practice from their supply chains. Some conflicts, however, remain unaddressed and a new online platform launched by the Rainforest Action Network shows that communities are still feeling the effects of losing traditional forests to make way for plantations.
The UK parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has just published its Human Rights and Business 2017 report calling for “stronger legislation, stronger enforcement and clearer routes to justice” to protect workers’ human rights. ETI gave written and oral evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights for the report – and helped facilitate the committee’s visits to Turkish and Leicester garment supply chains, which were used as case studies.
Another seven toxic substances may be added to the REACH chemicals regime authorisation list under plans drawn up by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Consultation on the list, which heralds a significant expansion of annex XIV to REACH, began on 2 March. These seven substances are karanal, 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, four related phenolic benzotriazoles (UV-328, UV-327, UV-350 and UV-320) and a family of phthalic acid esters which could be used in adhesives. ECHA is seeking comment on the substances’ uses, proposed transitional arrangements, possible exemptions from authorisation and information on supply chains until 2 June. A final decision on the proposals will be taken by the European Commission.
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.
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.
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.
Greenpeace have released a scorecard on 14 companies' progress on eliminating deforestation from their supply chains. Nestle and Ferrero scored the highest and Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo scored the lowest. Greenpeace has encouraged these companies to work with an implementation partner to recognise their commitments as well as seek third party verifications on their progress.
WWF-Brazil has released a guide which provides an overview of the updated Forest Code in Brazil. The report gives recommendations for decision makers in supply chain companies, financial institutions and governments on how to take action to implement and ensure compliance to the Forest Code. Information on the Forest Code law and recommendations to ensure effective implementation are also outlined.
The think tank Innovation Forum held a two-day conference in Washington DC entitled “How business can tackle deforestation” attended by 160 representatives from companies, NGOs and investors. Whilst multiple major consumer goods companies have declared their commitments to achieving zero deforestation in their supply chains many others have raised concerns over the term and what the policy actually means in practice.
Rainforest Alliances’ recent position paper, ‘Halting Deforestation and Achieving Sustainability’ warned that zero deforestation commitments may not be enough to protect the world’s forests, due to two reasons. Firstly, though many major companies have signed up for these commitments, many other producers and buyers will not. These companies will continue to rely on deforestation to produce their goods, unless a way is found to address underlying issues, such as growing worldwide demand for forest products. Secondly, focusing solely on deforestation risks drawing attention away from other business practices within the commodities supply chain which may deserve equally urgent attention e.g. water scarcity and labour laws. In addition, the use of ‘zero deforestation’ as a catchphrase is problematic because there remains no clear agreement over what the term means. Rainforest Alliance emphasises the need for greater education, auditing and transparency so that consumers know the impact of what they are buying and are able to trust companies’ sustainability claims. Though a commendable step in the right direction, ‘zero deforestation’ commitments need to be backed up with comprehensive action plans if they are to deliver credible results.
For decades, mahogany, ebony, rosewood and other rare tropical hardwoods have been extensively logged to produce valuable wood products, particularly guitars and other instruments. Increasingly aware of the impacts to forests and communities from over-harvesting, many instrument manufacturers have taken steps to make their supply chains more sustainable. Now, musicians are joining the call to make sure guitars and other instruments are made from legal, sustainably sourced wood. Last week the Environmental Investigation Agency and REVERB released a video featuring artists such as Jason Mraz and Michael Franti urging consumers to find out where their wood comes from.
Travis Perkins have been recognised for their efforts in eliminating destructive deforestation from their supply chain. The award for most improved company was given by CDP as part of their 2014 global forests report, ‘Deforestation-free supply chains: From commitments to action’. The report, set against the backdrop of September’s landmark New York Declaration on Forests, recognises ongoing improvement in removing deforestation from agricultural supply chains by 2020. Jez Cutler, head of group environment at Travis Perkins Group – and a guest speaker at our 2011 PREPS Seminar – said,
“We are delighted to be recognised as the most improved company in our industry in reducing reliance on forest risk commodities in the supply chain.
“This is a result of our continuous efforts to improve environmental excellence and sustainability throughout our organisation and our activities. We will continue to aim for further improvements and transparency as well as engagement with important organisations such as the CPD, who support this agenda.”
Short opinion piece on the major themes that were discussed at a recent Forest Legality Alliance meeting in Washington DC between members and experts involved in the harvest, manufacturing and trade of forest products. Illegal logging rates worldwide have declined by about 20 per cent since 2008. The main drivers indicating a shift were deemed to be that legality requirements are now in the mainstream (already in the US, EU and Australia and they are being explored in China and Japan), proactive companies are taking control of their supply chains, and the introduction of public procurement policies in some of the world’s major cities, in particular in Latin America, that require the sourcing of legal timber products.