Lifting the Veil on Polluters in China

In central Beijing a small but ambitious environmental NGO 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.

Founded in 2006, the Institute for Pollution and Environmental Affairs (IPE) prepared for its campaign by examining 200,000 pollution reports provided by China's Ministry of Environmental Protection. 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, accessible to anyone with access to the internet, pinpointing polluters. Polluting factories were linked to global corporations and the companies were put on notice: clean up your suppliers or risk exposure. When Apple failed to respond the IPE launched a "Poison Apple" campaign that turned Apple from a polluter into a supporter of the project.

Now the group is pushing corporations to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding their lists of suppliers so that their promises not to pollute further can be monitored. They're also encouraging the public to help. A new app allows anyone with a phone to monitor factories that are required to disclose their pollution levels. Offenders can be reported, instantly.

Journalists Gary Marcuse, Fred de Sam Lazaro and Shi Lihong report that new technology and a good supply of data is turning this small NGO into a major player in China's drive for cleaner air and water.

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