The rise of robots in manufacturing in Southeast Asia is likely to fuel modern-day slavery as workers who end up unemployed due to automation face abuses competing for a shrinking pool of low-paid jobs in a “race to the bottom”. Especially, the workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines — at least 137 million people — risk losing their jobs because of the automation in the next two decades. Those workers are more vulnerable to workplace abuses as they jostle for fewer jobs at lower wages.
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.
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
On January 1, 2018, the Chinese government implemented a new environmental tax policy, effectively ending the pollutant discharge fee that had been in effect for the past 40 years. The Environmental Protection Tax marks the beginning of a slew of new policies aimed at getting China’s pollution under control and will undoubtedly affect businesses, especially manufacturing firms.
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.
A major fire broke out at a printing ink manufacturing factory in Athipet near Ambattur Industrial Estate in India on 23 April. As the factory contained a large stock of chemicals, the raw material for manufacturing ink, the fire and rescue services personnel found it difficult to immediately douse the fire. The fire was brought under control after more than three hours of struggle.
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.
The American Forest and Paper Association has released its 2014 Sustainability Report, exhibiting the substantial and measureable progress that US pulp, paper, packaging and wood products have made towards achieving sustainability goals. The report outlines how paper mills self-generate most of their energy needs, and most of that energy is renewable and that the forest products industry is the second largest producer of combined heat and power electricity in the manufacturing sector.
Brazilian municipalities are turning to drones as they prepare to implement the new Forest Code which requires farmers in the Amazon to preserve up to 80 per cent of the forest on their land. The country’s biggest municipality in the Amazonian state of Pará has already purchased a drone at a cost of more than R$100,000 (over £25,000). The drones can fly for five hours at a time and photograph in detail 20,000-30,000 hectares per flight. The company manufacturing the drones said that demand has experienced a sharp increase in the past year, much of this coming from hydropower companies looking to monitor their vast properties in the Amazon against invasions by illegal settlers, deforestation and other problems.
The pattern of overseas investment and cooperation by Chinese timber enterprises is evolving rapidly. Chinese forestry enterprises have invested around US$1.3 billion in some 20 countries mainly for timber harvesting, primary processing as well as a growing interest in wood product manufacturing.
A WRI analysis of the pulp and paper sector, which is the third-largest energy user in US manufacturing, found that it could cost-effectively reduce its energy use in the Midwest by 25 per cent through the use of existing technologies. Against the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program, nearly two-thirds of Midwest mills fall short of the national average for energy performance. Total annual energy costs could be reduced by $120 million by reducing process energy requirements, capturing waste heat and increasing efficient on-site energy use. This could also have a knock-on effect of boosting production and increasing jobs. The report highlights the ISO 50001 standard which helps companies to introduce and systematically track facility energy performance against targets.
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.