Daily Media Briefing 6th September

Daily Media Briefing


Posted in: Daily Media Briefing, Environment, Policy & Research, Supply Chain

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September 06, 2013

Policy and Research

Wake up call for businesses: sustainability progress remains slow

According to the Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013 by the United Nations Global Compact (UNCG), although increasing numbers of chief executives recognise the need to deepen their companies’ sustainability efforts, this is not followed through with concrete actions.  The report, which includes survey responses from 1,712 companies across 113 countries, reviews the actions taken by companies to embed the responsible practices that are outlined in the Global Compact Management Model.   The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, said that “much more needs to be done to deepen sustainability efforts in how businesses think and act, from boardrooms to supply chains.”  The survey found that supply chains are among the biggest challenges that companies face when attempting to improve their sustainability performance, with only 18 percent of firms helping suppliers to set and review goals according to the UNGC principles. Ban Ki-Moon said that the UN “is committed to deepening its collaboration with the private sector and advancing the corporate responsibility movement.”  (Guardian Sustainable Business; Environmental Leader)


Chinese watchdogs accused of “unfairly” targeting foreign groups

The European Union Chamber of Commerce has accused Chinese regulators of unfairly targeting foreign companies in a series of recent corruption and monopoly investigations and has called for “a vast ceding of political control over the business environment” in China.  This follows complaints by the US Chamber of Commerce in China earlier this week, which stated that “ambiguous, overlapping, conflicting and irregularly implemented regulations” were a challenge faced by its members, some of which had complained of discriminatory policies favouring domestic companies over foreign counterparts.  Chinese organisations and business leaders, including the billionaire property developer Zhang Xin, have also express concerns about the need for more even-handed treatment of foreign businesses.  The Chinese Government has insisted that the investigations are not biased, and said that it appreciates the “important” role that foreign investors play in the economy. (Financial Times*)

Supply Chain

Workers’ rights “flouted” at Apple iPhone factory in China

According to the US labour rights organisation China Labor Watch, Apple’s new low cost iPhone, which is set to be launched next week, is being produced under illegal and abusive conditions in China. Reportedly, workers stand throughout 12 hour shifts and work an average of 69 hours a week, despite Apple’s internal policy limit of 60 working hours per week for factory staff.  Employees are also allegedly working without adequate protective equipment.  The issues were uncovered at a plant with 30,000 employees near Shanghai, which is owned by the US manufacturing company Jabil Circuit.  China Labor Watch said that “it is the duty of national governments to regulate the conduct of their companies abroad.”  Apple said that its experts were “already on site” to look into the claims and that the company is “dedicated to protecting every worker in our supply chain.” (The Guardian)



US mobile phone companies step up environmental efforts

The US electronics firm Apple has launched a new recycling initiative, the iPhone Reuse and Recycling Programme, which allows customers to trade in their iPhones for store credit.  Customers can only trade in working phones and Apple employees will determine the value of the phone based on its condition.  This follows the announcement that the US telecommunications corporation Sprint has broken the Guinness World Record world record for recycling 103,582 mobile phones in one week, which was more than double AT&T’s record of 50,942 devices.  Sprint, which was the first telecommunications company in the US to introduce a customer recycling programme in 2010, has reportedly saved more than $1 billion in costs through recycling. (Environmental Leader; Sustainable Brands)


UK Government proposals for biodiversity offsetting

In a paper published this week, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has outlined proposals to allow property developers to operate in environmentally sensitive areas by offsetting their activities through conservation work elsewhere.  The recommendations come after a two year pilot programme across six areas.  The UK Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, said that “there is no reason why wildlife and development can’t flourish side by side.”  However, the UK environmental charity The Woodland Trust has campaigned against the inclusion of ancient woodlands in the offsetting scheme and said that the proposals ignore the local value of natural habitats.  Friends of the Earth said that the plans would give developers the licence to “trash nature” and that the natural environment was “not something that can be bulldozed in one place and recreated in another at the whim of a developer.” (BBC)


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