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Can Pollution Tracking Lead to Cleaner Supply Chains?


A new project — run in tandem by the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs and the Natural Resources Defense Council — is allowing consumers and brands to track Chinese apparel factory pollution in real time.

As reported by Quartz, the project, dubbed the Green Supply Chain Map, is seeking to promote accountability among factories, those who contract with the factories, and consumers alike. The way it works is fairly simple: pollutant monitors were placed by the Chinese government at all factory wastewater discharge points. Those monitors then automatically upload data every two hours, which is shared with the IPE and the NRDC, who load it into an interactive map.

“The project is still in early stages, but the goal is to make it so anyone can quickly see which factories are frequent violators, and which brands they’re supplying,” the story states. “In theory, the brands could use the information to move more of their business to the good performers, and to pressure underperforming factories to clean up, or risk losing them as clients.”

Thus far, heavy hitters such as Gap, Target, Espirit, New Balance, Puma and Zara’s parent company, Inditex, have all signed on.

As of late, China’s been stepping up to fill the climate leadership vacuum created by our current administration, and their well documented disdain for planetary wellness. And while there are still numerous issues with the “opaque” nature of subcontracting, the integration of the existing data and new technology will, the IPE and NRDC hope, “spread to new countries like Vietnam,” further cleaning up an industry desperately in need of a bath.

In other news, our Cheeto in Chief is citing recent extreme weather events as evidence against Climate Change. 🤦

You can read more about it at Quartz.

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