Palm oil producers and environmental activists alike have expressed dismay at a move by European officials to phase out palm-oil based biofuel by 2030. Officials in Indonesia and Malaysia - who together produce 85% of palm oil globally - say the move is discriminatory and have vowed a vigorous response, including lobbying EU member states, bringing the matter before the World Trade Organisation, and imposing retaliatory measures on EU goods.
Environmental activists, on the other hand, say the policy does not go far enough leaving loopholes allowing palm oil to be treated as a renewable fuel, allowing continued expansion of palm plantations into peat forests. They also criticize the policy’s failure to label soybean oil as high risk, with growing evidence that soy cultivation may have greater deforestation risks than palm oil.
ECHA has assessed the health and environmental risks posed by intentionally added microplastics and has concluded that an EU-wide restriction would be justified. If adopted, the restriction could result in a reduction in emissions of microplastics of about 400 thousand tonnes over 20 years.
The definition of microplastic is wide, covering small, typically microscopic (less than 5mm), synthetic polymer particles that resist (bio)degradation. The scope covers a wide range of uses in consumer and professional products in multiple sectors, including cosmetic products, detergents and maintenance products, paints and coatings, construction materials and medicinal products, as well as various products used in agriculture and horticulture and in the oil and gas sectors.
Glycidol and acrylamide - carcinogenic above certain levels but only currently controlled in the EU - have been detected in biscuit products in Hong Kong and Malaysia. Hong Kong authorities and local regulators are testing and defining safe limits to evaluate the risks before controls are put in place.
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.
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.
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.
EPN have published their third report on the state of the global paper industry, presenting an analysis of the world’s pulp and paper industry, and the commercial, social and environmental risks and opportunities facing it. The report examines the performance of the industry against each of the goals of the Global Paper Vision; 1) reducing global paper consumption and promote fair access to paper, 2) maximising recycled fibre content, 3) ensuring social responsibility, 4) sourcing fibre responsibly, 5) reducing greenhouse gas emissions, 6) ensuring clean production and 7) ensuring transparency and integrity. Key themes include the need to bring paper consumption down to sustainable levels, to address climate chain impacts across the supply chain and to drive action around commitments.
- Environmental Paper Network
- Climate chain
- ensuring clean production
- ensuring transparency and integrity
- Global Paper Industry
- Global Paper Vision
- maximising recycled fibre content
- Paper consumption
- promote fair access to paper
- pulp and paper industry
- reducing global paper consumption
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- sourcing fibre responsibly
- suring social responsibility
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.
Trade association Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) welcomed the European Commission's final Opinion on the tolerable intake of aluminium, with regards to adapting the migration limits in toys. The Commission and its Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (Scheer) Opinion recommends a tolerable daily intake of aluminium, including from sources other than toys, of 0.3mg/kg of body weight per day.
Over the last decade, an unprecedented amount of information about chemical hazards and exposure has been collected and stored in the databases of Echa. Echa has been taking research on the substances could be confidently categorised as high priority substances with likely hazards and likely exposure during use. But there are still 3,000 substances in what the agency describes as a ‘grey zone’ where it has insufficient information to make a determination about the risks they pose.
A new CDP study released that a substantive portion, 24% on average, of the revenue of 187 international companies depend upon commodities linked with deforestation, which are cattle products, palm oil, soy and timber products. Moreover, only about 40% of the studied companies have evaluated how the availability or quality of these commodities can impact their business growth strategy over the next five or more years. However, on the positive side, more and more companies become to recognize the benefits in scaling up their forest-protection efforts.
"Zero deforestation” champion creates new risks for Indonesia’s forests and carbon-rich peatlands with mega-scale pulp mill
A recent study released by 12 international and Indonesian NGOs reveal that Asia Pulp &Paper (APP) is building one of the world’s largest pulp mills without a sustainable wood supply in South Sumatra. This analysis indicates that the current planted area owned by APP is insufficient in supporting this new mill as well as the 2 existing mills. This report suggests that APP may fail to meet its ‘zero deforestation commitments’ made in 2013 which included ‘100% sustainable plantation wood for pulp’.
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.
PEFC Italy, along with Conlegno, RiSSC, Risk Monitor and CNVP have launched a project aimed at preventing criminal organizations infiltrating into the EU timber market. The TREES project (Timber Regulation Enforcement to protect European wood Sector from criminal infiltration) aims at promoting standard procedures to prevent the risks of criminal infiltrations into the European market. By the end of the project, a standardized set of guidelines, actions and strategies to overcome difficulties in Due Diligence implementation will be developed, providing market operators with suggestions on how to carry out risk assessments and risk procedures.
A new WWF report warns that the Greater Mekong subregion in Southeast Asia risks losing more than a third of its natural forest cover in the next two decades at current rates of deforestation. The region, which is host to vital freshwater systems and forests depended upon by iconic species and a huge human population, is threatened by dam development, poaching and timber theft. The local governments have also given away large concessions to mining companies and plantation owners in designated protected areas.
A study published in Science modelling species extinction in the Brazilian Amazon has concluded that the extinction of many species in certain regions is inevitable. The study models several future scenarios ranging from “business as usual” to a “strong reduction” and found that even in the best case scenario deforestation will lead to the extinction of around 38 species locally. Future threats to the Amazon come from planned hydroelectric power plants and the risks of deforestation which might follow the changes to Brazil’s Forest Code.