World's first green supply chain map links brands to factories in China

Further increasing much needed transparency in the supply chain, a new interactive map shows the connections between international buyers like brands and retailers and their suppliers in China. The Green Supply Chain Map is the brainchild of the U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) in China and was announced last week.

“The Green Supply Chain Map is a leadership initiative dedicated to showcasing brands’ commitment to supply chain transparency and environmental management. It openly links brands' supplier lists to publicly-available environmental data, including real-time data for air emissions and wastewater discharge,” states the IPE's explanation of the map.

“The map has the potential to become a true game-changer for public environmental oversight and improvement efforts for industrial manufacturing in China,” commented Ma Jun, environmentalist and director at IPE. “We hope to see more brands step up their game and join the map to connect the missing dots of accountability in the vast network of global supply chains.”

World's first green supply chain map links brands to factories in China

Green Supply Chain Map makes connection between brands, suppliers and environmental impact

As the world's first map publicly linking multinational corporations to their suppliers' environmental performance, it is a powerful tool that interested brands can join voluntarily, thus demonstrating their leadership toward supply chain transparency and monitoring environmental efforts. Suppliers can publicly verify (and advertise) their environmental compliance, potentially attracting more orders. Last but not least, the map offers consumers a way to check on brands' and retailers' efforts and to let that information influence their purchasing decisions. So far, six brands have joined and disclosed supplier data - Esprit, Gap, Inditex, New Balance, Puma and Target.

“Until now, customers have lacked effective tools to assess the environmental impact of their favorite brands’ global operations,” said Linda Greer, senior health scientist for NRDC and founder of its Clean by Design green supply chain program. “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.”

Users can filter the map by brand to view and understand individual companies’ supply chains. The air, water and weather conditions in a factory's particular location are displayed as well, together with the air and wastewater pollutants each factory is releasing - alarmingly, all are out of compliance on both accounts.

For each factory, the name, province and city is available as well as if there are any violation records. Some of them have also provided real-time emissions data, feedback about corrective actions to improve environmental performance and annual pollutant emissions and resource usage data, which the map can be filtered for. The information is based on publicly available data from the Chinese government for nearly 15,000 major industrial facilities and the map provides access to environmental supervision records for over half a million more facilities.

The map is the result of the NRDC's and IPE's collaboration over the past eight years to address China’s air, water and soil pollution problems as the country has massively expanded its industrial manufacturing base. A staggering amount of this pollution – up to 25 percent of carbon emissions, for example – is linked to the manufacture of products for export abroad, garments and textiles in particular.

“We hope our map can serve as a reference for other countries and regions facing similar concerns about environmental impacts of rapid industrialization within their own borders,” said Kate Logan, the IPE's green choice outreach director.

The Green Supply Chain Map is available in English and Chinese and can be accessed via wwwen.ipe.org.cn/MapBrand/Brand.aspx.

Illustrations: via IPE website