Map links suppliers to pollution data

5 January 2018

The location and environmental impact of Chinese suppliers to six major apparel brands have been made publicly available on an interactive map.

The new tool geographically places nearly 15,000 industrial facilities supplying brands including Gap Inc. and Zara, and tags them with real-time data on pollution and waste water discharge. The tool also provides access to environmental supervision records for a further 500,000 facilities. 

To create the map, the apparel firms shared their supplier lists with the China-based Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE), which worked with the US-based environmental non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The IPE Green Supply Chain tool has been made available in both English and Chinese.

Ma Jun, director at IPE, said: “The map has the potential to become a true game-changer for public environmental oversight and improvement efforts for industrial manufacturing in China.”

The map links the supplier lists provided by Target, Esprit, New Balance, Puma, Gap Inc. and Inditex to publicly available government data on the performance of manufacturing facilities. Users of the map can see the current environmental performance of a brand’s facility simply by clicking on their logo pinned to the map, as well as view 30-day emission and water discharge trends.

Other data available includes factory responses and corrective actions to recorded violations, and any voluntarily disclosed emission data.

NRDC and IPE hope that, as well as increasing transparency, the tool will help brands find opportunities to make their supply chains greener and raise the expectation on suppliers to manage their environmental impact. The two organisations say the tool could be used to identify poor supplier performance that might be missed by traditional audits.   

Linda Greer, senior health scientist for NRDC, said: “Until now, customers have lacked effective tools to assess the environmental impact of their favourite brands’ global operations.

“These companies that have stepped up to put their names first on the inaugural map are showing new levels of transparency on their manufacturing abroad and are demonstrating real leadership in supply chain responsibility.” 

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