10 May 2010 | Andy Allen
BT and Vodafone have distanced themselves from a second-tier battery supplier in China which has been accused of causing lead poisoning.
In a case that has highlighted the difficulties of controlling environmental risk throughout the supply chain, the companies were among 27 leading international firms criticised for sourcing indirectly from Shanghang Huaqiang Battery.
According to the Guardian, a report by a coalition of 34 environmental groups found the company was implicated in the lead poisoning of 121 children in Fujian province last year and was a supplier for Narada Power Source. Narada, in turn, claimed on its website to be a supplier for Vodafone, BT and other firms.
A Vodafone spokesman said that Narada Power Source was no longer a Vodafone supplier but this was due to commercial rather than environmental reasons. Narada had ceased to source from Shanghang Huaqiang Battery in September 2009, when concerns were raised over its environmental record, he added.
“We wouldn’t rule out working with Narada again as in general their environmental track record is pretty good,” he said.
“We take this very seriously and we’re doing our best in a complex environment to improve conditions.”
A spokesman for BT said: “We have now heard back from all suppliers and the company mentioned [Shanghang] isn't a supplier to us directly or indirectly. We ask all our suppliers to adhere to BT's ethical and sustainable code of practice and to also ensure they also put ethical and sustainable practices in place in their supply chain.”