Conflict minerals in supply chains, FSC rules breached in Asia and WWF and Coke expand cooperation
Nintendo under fire over conflict minerals
Electronics manufacturer Nintendo is facing mounting pressure from human rights activists over its use of conflict minerals in its gaming consoles. The Japanese company is being urged to take steps to eliminate the use of the minerals in its production process, while activists are also calling for the improvement of its accountability and transparency levels.
All electronic devices require the use of minerals in their manufacturing. In Nintendo’s case, it is alleged that some of these minerals are being sourced in the mines of eastern Congo, many of which are directly linked to the violent conflicts that have engulfed the region over the past 15 years.
In 2012 the Enough Project, one of the many organisations working to raise awareness of conflict minerals, published a report that indicated that, when compared with other major electronics companies, Nintendo’s record ranked poorly in relation to conflict minerals use.
Sasha Lezhnev, senior policy analyst at Enough and co-author of the report, says: “Nintendo has made no known effort to trace or audit its supply chain.”
Minerals mined in eastern Congo can be difficult to trace back as they tend to pass through extensive lists of go-betweens while being shipped out. For that reason, the US Conflict Minerals Law, which was passed in 2012, applies to materials originating from eastern Congo as well as its nine neighbouring countries.
While American electronics companies are now legally required to verify and publicly disclose their sources of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (often referred to collectively as 3TG), Japanese electronics companies are not yet subject to such legislation.
Paper firm pulls out of FSC in face of inquiry
Indonesia-based paper manufacturer Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, also known as April, has unexpectedly withdrawn its membership from the Forest Stewardship Council.
A number of environmental NGOs, including Greenpeace, WWF and the Rainforest Action Network, believe the move is an attempt by the paper company to dodge an independent deforestation inquiry surrounding its deforestation practices in Indonesia.
The withdrawal has come after the environmental NGOs had filed a complaint against April, flagging the violation of the FSC policy for association. The policy is meant to ensure that the FSC only associates with companies committed to fundamental principles of responsible forest management.
The alleged breach pertains to what is believed to be large-scale conversion of natural forests into plantations, particularly the destruction of high conservation value areas.
WWF and Coca-Cola expand sustainability partnership
Conservation group WWF and Coca-Cola have announced the extension of their existing partnership to 2020.
Ian Morrison, WWF spokesman, remembers that “six years ago we announced a transformational partnership to conserve freshwater resources around the world”. As water continues to hold strategic priority as the main ingredient in every Coca-Cola product, by renewing their partnership the two organisations “areworking together to address the natural resource challenges that impact fresh water” Morrison says. The aim is to “accomplish five goals related to water efficiency, freshwater conservation, carbon emissions, renewable packaging and sustainable sourcing of agricultural ingredients”, Morrison explains.
The partnership has already helped Coca-Cola improve water efficiency by 20% and reduce the soft drink giant’s CO2 emissions across its global manufacturing operations. Coca-Cola is however aiming to further improve water use efficiency and decrease emissions across its entire value chain by an additional 25% in the years leading up to 2020.
However, with 1,000 bottling plants and more than 300 bottling partners around the world, these targets are no easy task. Morrison explains: “Each goal contains several components that will require consideration and strategy. For example, reducing the carbon embedded in Coca-Cola’s drinks by 25% must take into account the manufacturing processes, packaging formats, delivery fleet, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing. That will require great coordination, buy-in and support across Coca-Cola’s entire value chain.
WWF has helped Coca-Cola develop tools to help incentivise action across its global operation. Morrison says: “For example, together with Coca-Cola, we developed toolkits around water efficiency and stewardship that include more than 60 practices that can be executed at a plant, community and/or watershed level. We also implemented a programme called the Top 10 Energy Saving Practices across the entire Coca-Cola system.”coca-cola Conflict minerals Greenpeace Nadine Hawa ngo news ngo roundup NGOwatch Nintendo paper WWF
October 2013, London, UK
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