Big Companies Misbehaving in China Again?
A new report by Greenpeace delivers some not-great news about several giant companies' environmental performance in China. At issue are Chinese companies as well as multinationals like Samsung, Nestle, Kraft, and Shell (to name only a few), which have failed to live up to new regulations about pollution transparency. Being totally frank, to me the bigger news is that this law is on the books at all; I somehow missed it altogether.First, a little about the law: In May 2008, China enacted something called the Measures on Environmental Information Disclosure. The Measures say that "seriously polluting enterprises" are required to publicly report the major pollutants they're blasting into the environment through manufacturing and operations.As it turns out, most of these companies are not doing what they're supposed to be doing, which Greenpeace attributes to a few issues: Noncompliance by the companies; weak enforcement, which makes it easy for the companies to be noncompliant; and shortcomings of the law itself. For example, what exactly is a "seriously polluting enterprise," and how easy is it for companies to say that doesn't apply to them?Some of the things being emitted and not reported are among the more toxic and dangerous substances out there, like coal, tar, lead, and arsenic as well as the usual suspects.The watchdogs are obviously using the Measures as a way to address larger environmental concerns about manufacturing in China. I'm curious to see what China's response to the report will be.For those so inclined, you can download the complete report here. If you want the Cliff's notes, care of the Guardian, click here.Image by Greenpeace