During a high-level session at World Water Week in Stockholm, H&M group and WWF announced a new initiative to help Turkey tackle its water challenges, particularly pollution, and ensure sustainable, clean water supplies for businesses, people and nature. The project will focus on improving water management methods and policies in in the Büyük Menderes river basin, which is home to large-scale agriculture and industry, including textile operations, as well as rich biodiversity.
Brazil’s government has abolished a vast national reserve in the Amazon to open up the area to mining. The size of the area will be open to mining is about 30% of Renca which is larger than Denmark. Although the government confirmed the nine conservation and indigenous land areas within it would continue to be legally protected, activists worried that these areas could be badly compromised.
Even as the logging industry lobbies the Canadian government to further delay measures that would protect the country’s diminishing woodland caribou herds, research and satellite images of the boreal released last month by NRDC clearly illustrate the failure of voluntary industry commitments to protect woodland caribou habitat.
Due to the changes of international landscape for businesses and user feedback, the new version SMETA report 6.0 has published since April 2017 and took effect from 1 June 2017. The document outlined the main differences between SMETA 5.0 and the new SMETA 6.0 in terms of UNCP, modern slavery, business ethics, company codes and simplified SMETA.
EU experts have agreed to designate bisphenol A (BPA) as a human endocrine disruptor on top of its current repro-toxic classification, paving the way for an EU phase-out of the chemical. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced that its member state committee voted unanimously to classify the compound, used in polycarbonate plastics, inks and resins, a substance of very high concern (SVHC) under the EU REACH Regulation due to its endocrine-disrupting properties.
A dozen repro-toxic and carcinogenic substances will be phased out from the EU market within the next four years following the publication of the European Commission's decision. Eight repro-toxic substances, seven of them phthalates, will be banned from July 2020, with applications for individual uses accepted until January 2019. Anthracene oil and high-temperature coal-tar pitch must be phased out by October 2020, and the ban on two additional compounds classified as environmental endocrine disruptors will come into force on January 2021.
Major fashion brands are sourcing viscose from factories in China, Indonesia and India which are polluting and damaging health, according to new report. The report cites evidence that carbon disulphide exposure is harming both factory workers and people living near viscose plants. Residential areas nearby the factory are polluted with carbon disulphide levels three times higher than the permitted limit. The report is calling for carbon disulphide to be completely eradicated from the viscose production process, and for all viscose production to occur in a closed loop system which eradicates chemical discharge and prevents harm to workers and the environment. Spokespeople from those brands said they will work continuously with its suppliers to improve conditions and ensure that they adhere to sustainable practices.
Long known as a hotspot for rapid and largely illegal deforestation, Cambodia was singled out in a May 2017 EIA report. The report was the result of months of undercover investigations which found that from November 2016, more than 300,000 cubic metres (nearly 10.6 million cubic feet) of timber have been illegally felled in a wildlife sanctuary and two protected areas in Cambodia. Most of the timber was sold to Vietnam and generated $13 million in payments from Vietnamese timber traders. Environmental experts believe that a much-publicized crackdown on illegal logging launched in Cambodia in early 2016 had very little effect.
Plantation firms like Asia Pulp & Paper and Toba Pulp Lestari have a history land tenure issues, but more recently they have pledged to eliminate the practice from their supply chains. Some conflicts, however, remain unaddressed and a new online platform launched by the Rainforest Action Network shows that communities are still feeling the effects of losing traditional forests to make way for plantations.
Burmese migrants charged with defamation after alleging labour abuses in Thailand’s multimillion-pound poultry export industry. The Burmese migrants allege they were forced to work 22-hour days at Thammakaset Farm 2, at times having to sleep in the chicken sheds with 30,000 hens. They also said their freedom of movement was severely restricted. Thailand’s important and well publicised efforts to systematically address migrant worker exploitation are seriously undermined as migrants cannot speak up.
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 meeting between forestry representatives from Cameroon, Congo and China took place earlier this year, aimed at strengthening legality within the forestry sector and the international trade in timber. Participants agreed on the development of a forest control and verification system for timber from Cameroon and Congo heading to China; the need for capacity building based on a good knowledge of forest resources and monitoring tools; and the need to maintain ongoing co-operation and dialogue among stakeholders in Africa and China for more effective forest governance throughout the supply chain.
The Marketplace, launched by NGO ChemSec on 17 May, hosts marketing materials from suppliers and requests for products, as well as guidance and case studies on substitution. It makes it easier for businesses to find less problematic alternatives to toxic chemicals. Both the ChemSec and other initiatives had hitherto focused on informing the industry of what not to use, as described in its ‘SIN list’, rather than suggesting suitable substitutes. The Marketplace should help improve the visibility of alternatives.
The appetite for Musk’s electric cars, and his promise to disrupt the carbon-reliant automobile industry, has helped Tesla’s value exceed that of both Ford and, briefly, General Motors (GM). But some of the human workers who share the factory with their robotic counterparts complain of gruelling pressure – which they attribute to Musk’s aggressive production goals – and detailed allegations of mandatory overtime, plus sometimes life-changing injuries.
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.
EU and Vietnam complete negotiations on a deal to combat illegal logging and promote trade in legal timber
The EU and Vietnam conclude negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The agreement will help improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Vietnam to the EU, and other markets.
An imitation Rubik’s Cube sold in bargain stores in the UK has been found to contain significant amounts of banned flame retardants. Tests conducted by chemical campaign network, IPEN, found that three ‘Magic Cube' toys contained octaBDE, a commercial mixture of hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether. The Magic Cube toys were bought from three independent shops in London, which have since been shut down. One of their suppliers remains active, but the publication (ENDS) was unable to make contact with them.
China’s National Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently consulted on a draft list of substance restrictions in consumer products. The list combines a number of existing Chinese standards and, where no domestic standard exists, it refers to restrictions based on EU and other foreign legislation. The draft is similar to the consumer restrictions set out in REACH Annex XVII - includes 103 chemicals and proposes limit values for their use in consumer products, such as toys, textiles, coatings, paints, decoration materials and furniture.
Thousands of angered villagers protested in the northern Chinese province of Hebei on 3 May after a leak at a chemical plant called Hebei Xingfei Chemical Co. factory near Xingtai city releases toxic gases into the air. Residents of several villages near the site reported vomiting and fainting, while thousands have gathered outside the factory gates, blocking the road and demanding the plant's relocation for the past few days. Local officials have called on protesters to wait for environmental tests to be completed before they take a decision about how to deal with the factory.
Although 2015 saw worldwide demand for graphic paper decline for the first time ever, the paper and forest-products industry as a whole is growing, albeit at a slower pace than before, as other products are filling the gap left by the shrinking graphic-paper market. Packaging is growing all over the world, along with tissue papers, and pulp for hygiene products. The paper and forest-products industry is changing, morphing, and developing, in terms of industry structure and market segments. The industry is also facing challenges to manage short-to-medium-term ‘grade turbulence’, finding cost efficiencies, and finding new markets for forest products.