Three environmental protection groups in China have accused Disney of using licensing as a way of shirking its environmental responsibility.

The groups claim that despite its "meticulously constructed green image" the company's supply chain environmental management "consistently lags far behind that of other leading brands."

In a report released last month, the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE), Lvse Jiangnan and Huai River Guardians say their investigations show the brand has failed to meet its promises to "actively screen, evaluate and study the direct and indirect impacts its daily operations impose on the environment."

Citing examples of environmental violations at suspected Disney suppliers, the research claims Jinjiang Hanxin Garment Weaving Co and Qicaihu Swimwear Group – whose websites say they have partnerships with Disney and other brands – have both started construction projects in Fujian province without first submitting environmental impact assessment (EIA) documents or obtaining EIA permission.

It also alleges there has been excessive pollution discharge at a subsidiary of Huafung Co, a textile dyeing and finishing mill licensed to produce home textiles for Disney.

While the researchers say Disney has not responded to their calls for comment on these cases, separate allegations concerning the pollution records of Atechs Footware were met with the reply that the facilities were not authorised to make Disney products and were instead suppliers to licensors.

"By reaping profits while shirking environmental responsibility, Disney uses licensing to create a win-win situation," report authors say.

The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) is a non-profit organisation based in Beijing that has been collecting data on environmental polluters since 2006. 

Disney has also not responded to a request for comment from just-style.