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Lifting the Veil on Polluters in China

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Short synopsis
This is a success story about a small but ambitious environmental Chinese NGO, accepted and supported by the government, that is calling on major international corporations including Apple, Walmart and Hugo Boss, to take responsibility for suppliers who are fouling China's air and water as they produce goods for Western consumers.

Longer synopsis
Founded by Ma Jun in 2006, the Institute of Pollution and Environmental Affairs (IPE) prepared for its campaign by examining 200,000 pollution reports provided by China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The ministry maintains a surprising policy of publishing its finding, even when the polluting factories are state owned.

Using this data the IPE prepared maps that are accessible to anyone with access to the internet, pinpointing polluters. Polluting factories were that are linked to global corporations and the companies are put on notice: clean up your suppliers or risk exposure. When Apple failed repeatedly to respond to the IPE advisory, the IPE launched a "Poison Apple" campaign that embarrassed Apple, prompted a clean up, and led to Apple becoming a leading supporter of the project.

This is our pollution
The IPE and its American partner, the Natural Resources Defense Council, say Western consumers have a moral responsibility and ethical obligation to help solve China's pollution problem, since the world made a decision to concentrate so much of its manufacturing in one country.

"China's pollution problem is caused by about 1/3 by export to America and to Western Europe  So this pollution is our pollution. And I think we have an ethical obligation to help reduce it." --Linda Greer, Natural Resource Defence Council (USA)

Now the group is pushing global corporations to reveal the full list of factories that produce goods for them in China so that the IPE can monitor their clean up. They are also encouraging the public to help. Another campaign, shown in the video, will harness citizen scientists to keep an eye on polluters. A new app develloped by the IPE allows anyone with a phone to monitor their local factories to see whether they violate their operating permits.


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Death by Design

Related databases

The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), China
This NGO, described above, publishes an interactive map of polluting factories in China. Supported by data provided by the Ministry of Ecology and Environmental,

EJ Atlas
An interctive global atlas in multiple languages locates 3500 environmental conflicts.

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