An app is being launched across the EU that allows consumers to scan products for substances of very high concern (SVHCs). The app – Check Chemistry – has been developed as part of the pan-European AskREACH project. Consumers will be able to use their mobile phones to scan a product’s barcode and gain access to this information.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has issued a Proposition 65 safe use determination (SUD) for exposures to crystalline silica from four specific wood filler products. This determination relates to four Woodwise products, designed for use on hardwood floors, that contain crystalline silica in small amounts.
Statement: International community urges Cambodian government to take action to address issues of human & labor rights violations
After a yearlong official investigation, the European Union still found serious and systematic violations of human rights including severe limitations to political rights and freedom of speech as well as serious barriers to labour rights and workers exercising their associational rights. The EU has now decided to partially and temporarily suspend preferential tariffs the Government of Cambodia enjoyed. This decision comes at the end of years of concerns raised by the international community. Fair Wear, Clean Clothes Campaign, CNV Internationaal, Ethical Trading Initiative, INRetail, Modint and Mondiaal FNV have released a joint statement responding to the EU’s decision and urging the Cambodian government to take urgent action.
Indonesia’s environment ministry will file civil lawsuits against five companies in connection with fires that razed their concessions last year. Fire season in 2019 burned an area half the size of Belgium and released double the amount of carbon dioxide as the fires in the Amazon. Officials say they are preparing both civil lawsuits — seeking fines against the pulpwood and oil palm firms blamed for the fires — and criminal charges. However, a spate of recent cases suggests the government will have a hard time getting the money, with only a tiny fraction paid out of the $231 million awarded from nine companies in similar lawsuits.
The UK is to spearhead a major global crackdown on illegal timber and deforestation, with plans to form a coalition of developing countries against the trade as part of its hosting of crunch UN climate talks this year. All countries are expected to come forward with tougher plans to reduce global emissions as part of COP 26, and experts have said this will only happen if the UK takes the lead in forming a coalition of small and big developing countries, including forested African nations and Indonesia, as well as major economies such as the US, China, India and the EU. Offering assistance to developing countries, in the form of finance and technical expertise, will be vital to that effort.
Inconsistent business action in response to Covid-19 (novel coronavirus), first reported from Wuhan, China
Includes company responses, the latest jobs and events announcements.
• Declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus impacts workers’ rights around the world as employers seek to protect business and supply chains.
• Migrant workers from Malaysia reportedly return home without owed wages as employers try to force them to stay.
• Employees of American Airlines concerned about unknown health threats file a USA lawsuit to halt flights to China; airline has stated it is “taking precautions”.
• Technology firms allegedly maintain manufacturing operations despite government calls for companies to halt work to stop coronavirus spread.
New York’s ‘Toxic Toys’ Law: Governor Signs Legislation Regulating Chemicals in Children’s Products, But Changes to the Law Are Already Coming
A new measure signed into law on 7 Feb by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will enact new regulations on chemicals found in children’s products sold in New York state. The Child Safe Products Act creates and maintains lists of dangerous or questionable chemicals and requires manufacturers to report any substances used in their products. By 2023, the state will ban the sale of products that use certain chemicals, including asbestos, and certain flame retardants. The Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for notifying consumers of the presence of dangerous chemicals.
CDP’s annual A List names the world's most pioneering companies leading on environmental transparency and performance. This year, more than 200 corporates are recognized as leading on Climate Change, Water and Forests. UPM-Kymmene Corporation was one of only 8 companies to achieve the Forests A list in the latest round of CDP disclosures. The other leading companies are: Unilever plc, TETRA PAK, L'Oréal, HP Inc, FUJI OIL HOLDINGS INC., FIRMENICH SA, and Danone.
Read more about the Forests methodology here.
As the situation with Covid-19 continues to develop rapidly, Publishers including Oxford University Press and Wiley have been responding to the global health epidemic by making relevant research quickly and freely available. For the duration of the outbreak, all peer-reviewed publications regarding the outbreak will be made available freely.
China is stepping up restrictions on the production, sale and use of single-use plastic products, according to the state planner, as it seeks to tackle one of the country’s biggest environmental problems. Plastic bags to be banned in all major cities by end of 2020, and banned in all cities and towns in 2022, says state planner.
This speech by Brian Schatz, Senator from Hawaii (D) was part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 21—24 January 2020. Seeing that half of tropical deforestation is illegal, illegal and unsustainable timber and goods are flooding global markets. Voluntary commitments cannot achieve zero-deforestation without regulation. Regulation is one of the key drivers of sustainable forestry. This year, Schatz will introduce legislation that will make it illegal for companies to import the products of illegal deforestation.
China: Investigation finds labour abuse & sexual harassment at toy factories producing for international brands; Includes company responses
In November 2019, labour rights NGO China Labour Watch (CLW) released a report raising allegations of labour abuses faced by workers at five factories producing for international toy brands in Guangdong Province, China. Abuses documented by CLW include low wages, excessive overtime, inadequate health and safety protections, poor living conditions in worker dormitories, restrictions to freedom of association, discrimination, sexual harassment and gender-based violence. Brand companies (including Disney, Lego, BuzzBee etc.) are taking actions.
- Labour & Environment
- Business and Human Rights
- China Labour Watch
- excessive overtime
- gender-based violence
- Guangdong Province
- inadequate health and safety protections
- Labour abuse
- labour abuse & sexual harassment
- labour rights NGO
- Low wages
- Poor living conditions
- restrictions to freedom of association
- sexual harassment
Premier Li Keqiang has signed a State Council decree to publish a regulation on guaranteeing payments of wages to rural migrant workers. The regulation requires market entities should take the lead under the supervision of government and society including labour unions, social medias etc. It states employers must pay employment wage in full and on time through bank transfers or cash. It also clarifies the responsibilities of employers for paying off arrears to migrant workers and corresponding legal account abilities for any breach of the regulation. This regulation will go into effect on 1st of May, 2020.
With lots of emphasis laid on the environmental matters, social and anti-corruption matters gain insufficient attention. Evidence shows that current transparency and voluntary regimes are not yielding strong human rights due diligence by companies. Europe’s leadership in the next year on human rights and environmental due diligence legislation has never been more needed.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.