Top Stories

July 27, 2012

Supply Chain

Clothing companies launch sustainability index

Companies including Nike, Marks & Spencer, Levi's and Walmart are backing a new tool designed to measure sustainability across the clothing and footwear supply chain. The Higg Index is set to be unveiled today by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a trade body which claims to represent more than a third of the global apparel and footwear industries. Several of the companies have already been using their own tools to improve the sustainability of their products, such as Nike’s Materials Sustainability Index, and these have helped to inform the Index. “What we hope for is that everybody eventually comes together to use a common assessment,” said Coalition executive director Jason Kibbey. Kibbey revealed the long term goal for the initiative is to develop a consumer-facing rating for clothing products, although he was reluctant to set out a timeframe: “There is broad support amongst our members for a consumer-facing label, but to do it right we have to be completely unassailable or else it’s just greenwashing,” he said. (Forbes; BusinessGreen)

Modular buildings promise sustainable urbanisation

In China, where rapid urbanisation and unsustainable construction practices are threatening the environment, one company believes that it has found a solution. Broad Sustainable Building, a subsidiary of conglomerate Broad Group, insists that ‘modular building’ – creating structures at a factory, rather than a construction site – is the future. Broad recently used the innovative method to assemble a 30-storey hotel in just fifteen days, with 93% of the hotel having been previously manufactured in a factory. Thermal insulation and five-paned windows help keep the office cool, and other sustainable features include the ability to produce biogas from sewage and heat the building from hot waste water. With the world’s urban population predicted to soar in the coming decades, modular building offers the potential for cheap, sustainable building. (The Guardian)


Central African nations launch joint initiative to tackle poaching

Central African countries have launched an ambitious coordinated plan to combat poaching in the region, in the face of escalating wildlife crime and accompanying violence. The $14m initiative, which includes joint country patrols, use of informants, prosecutions and penalties, was announced at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Geneva this week. Several of the ten signatories to the five-year plan, which include the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, have experienced heavily-armed invasions by organised gangs in recent years. More than half of illegal ivory ends up in China. With China representing the biggest investor in Central Africa, the ten countries have appealed for support for the initiative, and there are signs of cooperation. China has invited officials from Central African nations with large elephant populations for training in law enforcement and monitoring techniques, and has invited countries to apply for financial help for the new initiative. (The Guardian)


US companies lag on sustainability reporting

US corporations continue to lag far behind their counterparts in other developed economies – notably the European Union and Japan – in disclosing environmental and social performance. A new study by the US Conference Board, Bloomberg and the Global Reporting Initiative finds that only a tenth of top US companies publish data, compared to a global rate of 19%. While 39% of companies in the global sample have adopted formal climate-change policies, only 16% of those in the US have done so. Co-author Thomas Singer blames a lack of regulatory pressure for not creating an incentive for American companies to report. He says that the broad data hides the fact that several of global the leaders in sustainability are American, but that these are the exception rather than the rule. (Wall Street Journal; The Guardian)