Top Stories

August 08, 2012

Corporate Reputation

Samsung China assembler employs child workers, group says

A Chinese company that assembles devices for Samsung Electronics hired children at its production facilities and forced employees to work excessive hours, violating labour laws, China Labor Watch said in a report.  Seven children younger than sixteen were working in the factory of HEG Electronics (Huizhou) Co. that makes phones and DVD players for Samsung, according to the report issued yesterday. Child workers faced the “same harsh conditions” as adults and were paid only 70% of the wages of other workers, according to the New York-based group, which conducted investigations in June and July. (Bloomberg)


Inclusive Business

Hershey’s CocoaLink mobile programme delivers 100,000 messages in Ghana

Ghana cocoa farmers have received more than 100,000 messages related to better farming and family well-being during the first year of CocoaLink, a mobile phones outreach program, sponsored by The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY), the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF). CocoaLink, a first-of-its kind programme that uses mobile voice and SMS text messages delivered in the local language or English, connects cocoa farmers with important information about improving farming practices, farm safety, child labour, health, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and crop marketing. It is now the largest mobile farmer technology program of its kind and plans to grow. (Investor’s Business Daily)

More NGOs finding fruitful collaborations with the private sector

Oxfam and Unilever have been working together to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers since 2010, setting up pilot projects in Tanzania and Azerbaijan to source dehydrated vegetables, demonstrating a more collaborative approach between NGOs and business. Private sector involvement in fighting poverty is on the increase. The recent ‘G8 Action on Food Security’ for example, put forward by President Obama, relies on attracting private sector money to invest $3 billion (£1.9 billion) in African agriculture. As well as Oxfam, Unilever works with a range of partners from local NGOs to global organisations such as Unicef, Save the Children, WWF, Solidaridad and Rainforest Alliance. Rather than campaigning against the activities of the private sector, more NGOs and charities are joining forces to help make operations better and more sustainable. (Guardian)


Policy & Regulation

New rare earth access standard unveiled in China

China will strictly regulate rare earth industrial access in terms of production scale, technology equipment and resources utility, according to a new standard issued yesterday by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Rare earth elements are a set of 17 chemical elements that are usually found dispersed rather than concentrated in the ground. This means that their mining, production and recycling can have serious environmental consequences. This is the first time that the Chinese government has set thresholds for rare earth producers in terms of production scale. At present there are 23 rare earth mining companies and 99 smelting enterprises in China. Although, with the issuance of the new standards, more than one-third of mining companies and almost half of all smelting and extracting enterprises will be shut down due to their inability to meet the new standard, according to Jia Yinsong, an official from the ministry. However, the new draft fails to mention the index of vegetation recovery rate and noise criteria mentioned in the original draft. According to this article, the issuance of new standard reflects China’s determination to promote the development of the country’s rare earth industry. (Eco Business)



Water disposal most severe fracking environmental threat, says report

The disposal of contaminated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing wells producing natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region, North America, presents risks from salts and radioactive materials that are “several orders of magnitude larger” than for other potential water pollution events examined in a report by Stony Brook University, New York. The new findings and recommendations come amid significant controversy over the benefits and environmental risks associated with fracking. The practice, which involves pumping fluids underground into shale formations to release pockets of natural gas that are then pumped to the surface, creates jobs and promotes energy independence, but also produces a substantial amount of wastewater. In May, Chevron and ExxonMobil shareholders filed proposals asking the companies to disclose risks to their operations and finances from hydraulic fracturing. (Environmental Leader)