The database and map provide real-time data and historical trends in air pollution emissions and wastewater discharge

The database and map provide real-time data and historical trends in air pollution emissions and wastewater discharge

Six leading apparel brands have stepped forward to be featured on a new online map that claims to be the only tool in the world to openly link leading multinational corporations to their suppliers' environmental performance.

Developed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in the US and the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) in China, the IPE Green Supply Chain Map is based on publicly available data from the Chinese Government.

The database and map provide real-time data and historical trends in air pollution emissions and wastewater discharge for nearly 15,000 major industrial facilities in China and access to environmental supervision records for over half a million more.

The first brands to feature on the new tool are Target, Esprit, New Balance, Puma, Gap Inc and Inditex. They have publicly shared their lists of suppliers and provided the information required to IPE for its mapping efforts.

Ma Jun, environmentalist and director at IPE, believes the map has the potential to become a true game-changer for public environmental oversight and improvement efforts for industrial manufacturing in China.

"We hope to see more brands step up their game and join the map to connect the missing dots of accountability in the vast network of global supply chains."

NRDC and IPE have been working together for the last eight year to address China's air, water and soil pollution problems as the country has massively expanded its industrial manufacturing base. Up to 25% of carbon emissions, for example, is linked to the manufacture of products for export abroad.

The bilingual map, which features both English and Chinese versions, gives companies real-time information and allows customers and the public to gain greater transparency around companies' environmental impact.

Users can click the logo of the brand of interest at any location in the country and see exactly how its supplier factory is performing environmentally at that moment, as well as view a 30-day trend of emissions and discharges. Users can also view factory responses and corrective actions towards environmental violation records, as well as voluntarily disclosed annual emissions data.

"Until now, customers have lacked effective tools to assess the environmental impact of their favourite brands' global operations," says Linda Greer, senior health scientist for NRDC. "These companies that have stepped up to put their names first on the inaugural map are showing new levels of transparency on their manufacturing abroad and are demonstrating real leadership in supply chain responsibility.'"

The creation of the map is expected to open up opportunities for retailers and brands to green their supply chains by raising expectations that suppliers will actively maintain solid environmental management and transparency.

It is expected that well-performing factories can be recognised and motivated by multinational and local Chinese firms, whose procurement departments can award greater market share for those demonstrating excellence in their environmental behaviour.

When used correctly, the two groups says the map can reduce the time and expense associated with factory audits, which often don't identify hidden problems as well.

They are hoping the tool will lead to new levels of global collaboration and serve as a reference for other countries and regions facing similar concerns about environmental impacts of rapid industrialisation.

Click here to view the map.