China has taken further steps to reduce the burden of social insurance on employers by implementing new policies and rules. On production safety, the government issued a policy titled ‘Measures on Coordination Between Administrative Enforcement and Criminal Proceedings in Production Safety Crimes’, which will mean tighter enforcement in this area. Some new updates on workplace sexual harassment and personal data protection have also been put forward by government. Employers are asked to review these newly issued policies and any forthcoming national and local policies to ensure their practices are in line with the regulations.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
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.
ECHA has added four new substances to the Candidate List due to their toxicity to reproduction, endocrine disruption and a combination of other properties of concern on 16 July 2019. The four substances are listed below:
1. 2-methoxyethyl acetate
2. Tris (4-nonylphenyl, branched and linear) phosphite (TNPP) with ≥ 0.1% w/w of 4-nonylphenol, branched and linear (4-NP)
3. 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy)propionic acid, its salts and its acyl halides (covering any of their individual isomers and combinations thereof)
The Suzano Pulp and Paper mill in Imperatriz, Maranhão state, Brazil, was inaugurated in 2014 and has an annual production capacity of 1.65 million tons of pulp and 60,000 tons of toilet paper. But a local activist interviewed by the World Rainforest Movement argues that the mill has had negative impacts on the local community.
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”.
Around 150 Yong’an residents are suing the local government and its partner forest management company, Guangxi Lee & Man Forestry Technology Ltd, for violating a clause in contract law where a business must not damage public interests. Villagers claim the eucalyptus, a thirsty plantation species, is draining the local water supply from three mountain springs, leaving very little for farming and domestic use in the village. This is the first case of this kind in China.
Governments agree landmark decisions to protect people and planet from hazardous chemicals and waste, including plastic waste
Around 180 countries agreed to amend the Basel Convention at a meeting on 10th May 2019. The amendment means that plastic waste is now included within the legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that it’s management is safer for human health and the environment.
Other far-reaching decisions included the elimination of two toxic chemical groups, which together total about 4,000 chemicals, listed into Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and its salts and PFOA-related compounds.
In late April, 29 instances of labour unrest occurred in China, but none of these incidents were reported in the state-run press. This contrasts sharply with the widespread coverage of the tech industry’s pervasive “996” work culture, where employees are expected to work 9am to 9pm, six days per week.
A four-year investigation by the US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) uncovered evidence of an illegal timber trade stretching from Chinese-owned Dejia Group in West Africa to major hardware stores located across the USA.
The timber was from the okoumé tree, classed vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with a range limited to just four African countries. US Federal officials are investigating the importers, Evergreen Hardwoods and Cornerstone Forest Products. The Dejia Group also exports to European countries where the EU Timber Regulation is in force, including France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Greece.
- Forest Sourcing
- United States
- Chinese-owned Dejia Group
- Cornerstone Forest Products
- Evergreen Hardwoods
- hardware stores
- illegal timber trade
- IUCN Red List
- okoumé tree
- The Dejia Group
- Timber Regulation
- US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
- US Federal officials
New Zealand is losing native flora and fauna at an unprecedented rate, primarily because of invasive species.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has mapped substances on the EU market in a bid to help authorities identify, plan, monitor and regulate substances of concern. There are three groups of substances:
• 270 substances are high priority for risk management.
• 1,300 substances are high priority for data generation.
• 450 substances are low priority as sufficient regulation exists, and 500 substances have been concluded to be currently of low priority after assessment.
ECHA mentioned the focus is on the 4,700 substances registered above 100 tonnes. And more than 40% of these substances have been allocated to the above categories. The substance list will be published at the end of the year.
In the build-up to Indian general elections, a survey found that clean drinking water and agriculture-related governance were high on Indian voters’ list of priorities. High levels of water and air pollution, plaguing Indian cities in recent years, were a bigger concern for voters in urban areas.
An explosion at a pesticide plant in eastern China's Jiangsu province killed 78 people and injured more than 600. The government has since launched a nationwide inspection into hazardous chemicals, mines, transportation and fire safety. The area's environmental protection bureau has implemented an emergency plan to remove and treat toxic wastewater from a nearby river, with concentrations of harmful chemicals like benzene well past safe limits. The Chinese government vowed to tighten environmental impact assessment approvals for chemical plants and enhance daily inspections. It has also said it will revise the Production Safety Law this year in response to the explosion.
Jiangsu’s provincial government also have plans to close thousands of chemical production sites and chemical parks over the next three years.
- Labour & Environment
- chemical plants
- Chinese goverment
- daily inspections
- Deadly chemical blast
- emergency plan
- environmental impact assessment approvals
- environmental protection bureau
- fire safety
- hazardous chemicals
- Jiangsu province
- pesticide plant
- Production Safety Law
- toxic wastewater
An investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found that some workers at tea estates certified by Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade in Sri Lanka suffer from illegal wage deductions and take home as little as 14 U.S. cents a day. Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade said they were investigating as deducting wages without workers' consent was not allowed by law and contravened their standards. Unilever said it was "deeply concerned" and would investigate. Major tea company Tetley, owned by India's Tata Global Beverages, said it was in touch with the Rainforest Alliance regarding the findings.
The Global Canopy's 'Forest 500' assesses the 350 most influential companies in forest-risk commodity supply chains and the 150 financial institutions that support them. Nearly half of the 500 assessed companies have made commitments to eliminate deforestation by 2020, but none of the companies and financial institutions assessed in 2018 are on track to meet their target in time.
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.
US regulators say several children’s makeup products from Claire's stores tested positive for asbestos. According to Chemical Watch, the US House of Representatives is considering a bill requiring talc-containing cosmetics marketed to children to bear a warning label that the product may be contaminated with asbestos.