- Disney doll factory in China investigated over treatment of workers
- Unilever pours €100,000 into plastic-free laundry tablet
- Hermes: Companies ignoring climate change are risky investments
- MP urges pension investment in UK social and public projects
- Africa cocoa industry failing on deforestation pledge
A Chinese factory making Disney and Fisher-Price dolls is being investigated over its treatment of workers by an ethical scheme for the toy industry, sparking calls by activists for consumers to think twice when buying gifts over Christmas. An investigation by human rights groups Solidar Suisse and China Labor Watch found that staff at a toy factory in Heyuan, China, were working illegal overtime, receiving no holiday or sick pay, and often earned less than 1 pound ($1.27) per hour. The mostly female workforce at the Wah Tung factory – which has been certified by responsible sourcing scheme the Ethical Toy Program (ETP) – make toys for Disney, Mattel’s Fisher-Price brand and other global companies, according to the two groups. Workers at the factory make a Princess Ariel doll—from Disney’s animated tale “The Little Mermaid”—which sells online for 35 pounds, yet receive an average of just 1 pence per toy, reported the Guardian. (Guardian; Reuters)
Innovation / Waste
Unilever, the multinational behind cleaning brands such as Persil, CIF and Domestos, has announced plans to invest €100,000 in a new concept for a plastic-free laundry tablet. Every year billions of single-use laundry liquid sachets are sold around the world to low-income families who can only afford to pay for one wash at a time. But the packaging is tricky to recycle and often ends up as litter. Earlier this week designers – including Unilever employees – gathered at the firm’s ‘Rethink Plastic’ Hackathon and developed the idea for a laundry tablet to replace the plastic sachets. The plastic-free solution, which won the hackathon, uses a cheap, plant-derived coating instead of plastic to protect the tablet’s cleaning agent against humidity. Unilever was so impressed with the concept that it yesterday announced plans to invest €100,000 in the tablet’s development and support market trials. (BusinessGreen)
Firms which are not prepared for the potential impacts of climate change could find themselves lumbered with stranded assets, one of the world’s leading investment managers has warned. In its 2018 Carbon Report, released yesterday, Hermes CEO Saker Nussibeh said the financial case for climate action is becoming “ever clearer”, with progressive companies set to thrive during a green transition while laggard firms are set to struggle. “Companies that aren’t thinking about how to adapt to the low-carbon economy are at risk of being left with stranded assets, while those that are offering solutions are really well-placed to thrive,” Nussibeh writes. The report underscores the growing investor pressure companies are facing to develop and disclose their environmental strategies, and points to a looming future threat that cash could be withdrawn if they fail to deliver. (BusinessGreen)
The exchequer secretary to the treasury has called on defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) pension schemes to invest in UK social infrastructure, suggesting “millennials” will expect their investments to have a positive impact. Speaking at the Pension and Lifetime Savings Association’s (PLSA) Trustee Conference in London today, Robert Jenrick said pension funds with their stock of “patient capital” were ideally placed to fund projects that helped the greater good of society. Jenrick said pension funds had a “crucial role to play” in making the UK an attractive place for international businesses to establish and grow. He said by capturing their “patient capital”, these funds could “power the British economy forward”, as the long-term nature of both DB and DC pension fund investments was ideal for funding its growth. (IPE)
Supply Chain / Sustainable Agriculture
The cocoa industry is failing to meet a highly publicised pledge to stop deforestation in west Africa and eliminate tainted beans from supply chains, environmental campaigners say. Big chocolate companies and the governments of Ghana and the Ivory Coast continue to be responsible for the deforestation of tens of thousands of hectares of land over the past year, despite their promises to end the practice last November, the campaigning organisation Mighty Earth said in their report ‘Chocolate Greenwashing’. Following the publication of a Guardian investigation last year into how the chocolate industry was driving deforestation on a devastating scale in Ivory Coast and Ghana, and a study by Mighty Earth, the two west African governments made plans to stop all new deforestation and replant degraded forests. Governments have failed to stop it, and companies are still buying cocoa from “dirty producers” who continue to cut down the few remaining patches of rainforest, according to the report. “Companies have talked the talk but not walked the walk,” said Etelle Higonnet, the report’s lead author. (Guardian)
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