February 2018 Report
The appetite for electric cars is driving a boom in small-scale cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some mines have been found to be dangerous and employ child labor. Carmakers from Volkswagen AG to Tesla Inc., who are seeking to secure long-term supplies of the battery ingredient, [… do not] want to be enmeshed in a scandal about unethical mining practices. Tech giants including Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. endured bad publicity after a 2016 Amnesty International report said children were being sent down some Congolese mines to dig for cobalt destined for their gadgets.
The Evening Standard reports on how sustainability is becoming increasingly important in fashion. Fashion creates greenhouse gas emissions of 1.2bn tonnes a year — larger than that of international flights and shipping combined. It costs the UK economy an estimated £82m a year to landfill clothing and household textiles. As Livia Firth stated ‘what we need to do is buy less and buy better like we used to 20 years ago,’ Since launching Eco Age in 2009, Firth’s organisation has provided sustainability solutions for brands keen to improve their supply chain including Gucci, Chopard and Erdem.
The suicide of a 14-year-old girl at a textile mill in southern India after a 16-hour shift is under investigation as a trade union and human rights campaigners voice concerns about poor conditions in the industry and the use of child labour. Dharshini Balasubramani, who was found hanged in her dormitory on Tuesday, worked for mill owned by Kolkata-based Dollar Industries Limited in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Insufficient law enforcement remains a challenge in the Thai government’s efforts to combat the illegal fishery industry. Human trafficking, in particular, remains an issue. While regulatory controls on improving conditions of work at sea have been made stronger, Human Rights Watch blamed poor implementation and enforcement that “has perpetuated a culture of abuse and impunity.” Its research indicated practices such as retention of identity documents, wage withholding and recruitment linked to debt, are forcing workers into working very long hours and end up in slave-like conditions.