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”.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
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.
New Zealand is losing native flora and fauna at an unprecedented rate, primarily because of invasive species.
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
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.
Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) jointly published Towards Better Modern Slavery Reporting, a review of global modern slavery legislation. It highlighted gaps in legislation and provides clear recommendations for governments and companies to enhance future modern slavery reporting.
On November 19, 2018, Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation and Standardization Administration announced the release of the revised Identification of Major Hazard Installations for Hazardous Chemicals (GB 18218-2018). It came into mandatory effect on March 1, 2019. Major hazard sources in printing industry may include the inflammables and explosives, such as methylbenzene and ethanol used in printing ink, cleansing solvent, as well as VOC that may lead to serious disease.
Fashion designer, Stella McCartney, launched #THERESHEGROWS on Instagram to raise awareness of the endangered Leuser ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia.
The campaign supports Canopy’s work to conserve Leuser, the last stronghold for orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers to co-exist in the wild. Canopy works alongside local and international NGOs and local decision-makers to protect the 6.5 million-acres rainforest, encouraging a conservation-based economy in the region.
A joint enforcement project undertaken by the Nordic countries has found hazardous substances in over one-fifth of free promotional items tested. According to the Norwegian Environment Agency, inspectors found restricted substances above the limit mostly in soft plastic gadgets – due to the presence of softeners, like DEHP and SCCPs – as well as in toys, and electrical and electronic products.
The detected items contained either restricted substances in concentrations exceeding limit values or those on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs in concentrations over 0.1%. A final report of the joint enforcement project will be published this month (May 2019).
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.
The Accountability Framework initiative will organize a webinar to help people learn more about the framework. An overview of the Accountability Framework's principles and guidance related to setting commitments, taking action, and demonstrating progress will be presented.
The Accountability Framework is a set of common norms and guidance for establishing, implementing, and monitoring responsible supply chain commitments, aiming to help companies and others to set commitments, take action, demonstrate progress, and support broader positive impacts. The Accountability Framework initiative is led by a diverse group of civil society representatives including Forest People Program, Greenpeace, WRI, WWF, etc.
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.