A large fire has swept through a bag factory in the Indian capital Delhi, killing 43 workers. A local fire chief claims that the building did not have a proper fire licence and was operating illegally as a factory. The owner of the factory has been arrested. An electrical short circuit may have caused the fire.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
Latest UN Emissions Gap Report finds world must ramp up climate ambitions at least threefold to meet Paris goals
The Emissions Gap Report 2019 finds that total greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 1.5 percent per year over the past decade, and that even if all current commitments made under the Paris Agreement were implemented, global temperatures would rise by 3.2°C. Countries would have to ratchet up their emissions reductions commitments threefold to meet the 2°C target by 2030.To reach the 1.5°C target, it would require a five-fold increase in countries’ emissions reduction commitments.
The European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, has published a list of over 21,000 REACH-registered substances mapped in its 'chemical universe'. The substances have been divided into five pools based on the regulatory actions in place, initiated or considered for them. It also highlights that there are still thousands of substances for which possible actions have not yet been determined. The chemical universe does not indicate whether a substance’s use is safe or not – it is mainly to help authorities focus their actions. The assignment to a pool is also not permanent – substances will move from one pool to another over time when new information becomes available or priorities change.
The trend of setting up a national inventory of chemicals – already seen in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – is moving south. The Philippines and Vietnam have existing inventories, while Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia also have plans for one.
Despite regulatory hurdles that might have caused due to disparate regulations and approaches across the region, the overall trend – if slower than other regions – is a shift in focus from primarily GHS-based requirements towards more comprehensive, risk-based chemicals management regimes that mandate registration before use.
Early December, over 100 NGOs, trade unions and networks stress their demands for binding rules on corporate respect for human rights and the environment. They point out that although some companies are taking actions to meet their responsibilities in their global operations, there are many others linked to serious abuses, including modern slavery, gender discrimination, corruption, deforestation, etc. Current EU policy and legislation fails to adequately address this challenge. They propose that 1) companies and investors are required to carry out human rights andenvironmental due diligence; 2) new binding EU legislation that increases protection for individuals and communities, workers and their representatives, human rights defenders, and the environment, is passed.
The US Customs Border Authority has banned the import of products from certain companies accused of modern slavery violations. The law came into effect in 2016 but this action shows that it can have teeth.
One of the five products/companies was a garment factory in Xinjiang, China, and another one a Malaysian rubber glove factory. The latter was accused of withholding wages, excessive recruitment fees and withholding of passports in a Guardian report back in December 2018 here.
Metsä Group's Äänekoski mill in Finland now calls itself a ‘bioproducts mill’ as it makes paper and wood for recyclable drinks cartons, clothing and building materials. They re-use the chemical additives and by-products of the production process to make sure they are not wasted. They also deploy drones to digitally map the forest area so they can monitor trees using a mobile phone app and then arrange remotely for contractors to thin or harvest an area when the trees look ready. For more information, please visit Metsä Group's website.
In late May, Toxics Free China and the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation published a report on the safety of plastic toys being sold online, warning of hazardous plasticisers and loopholes in their regulation on e-commerce sites. Most of these plastic novelties lack safety certificates and required information on date and place of manufacture. Of the 12 rubber ducks purchased and analysed for the study, nine contained 123 to 312 times the permitted levels of plasticisers. These items were bought on Taobao, JD and Pinduoduo, three big e-commerce sites.
A coalition of NGOs send an open letter to the Consumer Good Forum calling on them to act on their 2020 deforestation commitments
Ten years ago, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) made a commitment to end deforestation in member companies’ supply chains by 2020. As 2020 approaches, the companies will inevitably miss the deadline. An international coalition of NGOs called this out CGF members and relayed the following expectations in this open letter:
• Communicate a mandatory requirement ensuring suppliers comply with ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments.
• Ensure human rights are respected and compliance with international standards of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC).
• Establish comprehensive, proactive, and transparent monitoring systems that rapidly detect non-compliance across supply chains and require implementation of the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) for agricultural development involving land-use change. Assessments should use the Integrated High Conservation Value (HCV)- HCSA Assessment Manual and be approved by the High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN) Quality Review Panel before development
• Publish guidelines to address non compliances, including thresholds for suspension and grievance mechanisms
• Provide incentives and support to upstream suppliers to manage risk
• Publish public facing reports on progress
A new report by Human Rights Watch finds that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is a lucrative business largely driven by criminal networks that threaten and attack government officials, forest defenders and indigenous people who try to stop them.
Fires are raging at a record rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, and scientists warn that it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change. According to INPE, more than 1½ soccer fields of Amazon rainforest are being destroyed every minute of every day and the fires are burning at the highest rate. Environmental activists and organisations accuse Brazil's president -Jair Bolsonaro of relaxing environmental controls in the country and encouraging deforestation.
The OECD is drawing up a set of criteria that will define a ‘sustainable’ plastic from a chemical perspective. The criteria will promote the design of products with sustainable chemistry in mind at each stage of the lifecycle of plastics – feedstocks, production and manufacturing, product use and end-of-use – as well as assessing the entire product compared to similar non-plastic products. They will also aim to discourage the use of hazardous chemicals. Some recommended tools for business decision makers will be added too. The report will be expected before the end of 2020.
IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems
The IPCC released a special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. The report addresses greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in land-based ecosystems, land use and sustainable land management in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation, desertification, land degradation and food security.
China’s Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) has completed its consultation on two mandatory guidelines for local authorities that explain how to investigate safety risks at chemical industry parks and hazardous chemical facilities. The guidelines for facilities not only include best practice, it also contains safety checklists. The guidelines for chemical industry parks set out the criteria for authorities to grade them. The next round of activities will focus on reviewing facilities with certain safety issues.
This August, Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), the national member of PEFC from India, has released the voluntary certification standard for Trees Outside Forests (TOF) in India after three years' development. In the Indian context, TOF refers to agroforestry, urban trees and forests and scattered trees in farmland and homesteads, trees along roads, canals, railway lines and in orchards and gardens. These trees are mostly privately owned, even by small and marginal farmers. TOF resources play a very important role in meeting the demand for wood fibre in India, especially for the pulp and paper, plywood and composite products, handicrafts and furniture industries. Currently, TOF resources are estimated to meet more than 85% of the industrial wood requirements. We anticipate that NCCF will seek the endorsement of TOF certification standard by PEFC and will keep following its development.
India's top court instructed a garment firm to pay pensions to women who had worked for them from home in the 1990s. There are an estimated 37 million home-based workers across various sectors in India. Besides being denied minimum wages, home-workers get no social security or medical benefits from employers and have virtually no avenue to seek redress for abusive or unfair conditions. The new ruling could set a precedent, helping millions of "invisible" workers access staff benefits.
On 23 July, the Booksellers Association launched “Green Bookselling: A Manifesto for the BA, Booksellers and the Book Industry”, as part of its ongoing commitment to reducing waste across its membership and throughout the supply chain. The manifesto calls on publishers and distributors to phase out single-use cardboard in favour of recyclable materials and to take up environmental commitments, including reviewing both the delivery and "inherently wasteful" returns processes, and stopping sending out unsolicited book proofs and marketing materials to booksellers.
The European Commission set out a new framework of actions to protect and restore the world's forests, which addresses both the supply and demand side of forest products. It introduces measures for enhanced international cooperation with stakeholders and Member States, promotion of sustainable finance, better use of land and resources, sustainable job creation and supply chain management, and targeted research and data collection. It also launches an assessment of possible new regulatory measures to minimise the impact of EU consumption on deforestation and forest degradation.
SPOTT released their 2019 timber and pulp assessment results, which show the tropical forestry sector needs to improve public disclosure of policies and practices. Although average scores were just 20.4%, compared to 31.1% in 2018, companies assessed since 2017 have, on average, increased their score over time, showing some progress towards transparency. A full summary of this year’s assessments is available at this link.
An 18-month investigation conducted by Transparentem unearthed serious abuses at five apparel factories in Malaysia – hundreds of migrant workers had paid illegal recruitment fees that sometimes exceeded a year’s pay, while four of the factories retained the workers’ passports. The findings were presented to 23 western companies, fifteen of whom agreed to help remediate the five factories by defining specific resolutions. In addition, the American Apparel and Footwear Association – which includes Nike, Gap, Ralph Lauren and 120 other companies – announced a new policy on “responsible recruitment” that requires “supply chain partners” to make sure no workers pay recruitment fees and “workers retain control of their travel documents and have full freedom of movement”.