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NEW YORK – Six leading apparel brands, Target, Esprit, New Balance, Puma, Gap Inc and Inditex, have shared their supplier lists with two NGOs, the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in China to develop a map linking apparel brands to their Chinese factories. The new map provides real-time data and historical trends in air and water discharge and is believed to be the first tool in the world to openly link multinational corporations with their suppliers’ environmental performance.

Based on publicly available data from the Chinese government, IPE’s database and map provide pollution information for nearly 15,000 major industrial facilities in China and access to environmental supervision records for over half a million more.

The six apparel brands will be sharing their lists of suppliers and providing this information to the IPE for its inaugural mapping efforts.

“Until now, customers have lacked effective tools to assess the environmental impact of their favourite brands’ global operations,” said Linda Greer, senior health scientist for NRDC and founder of its Clean by Design green supply chain program. “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 map has the potential to become a true game-changer for public environmental oversight and improvement efforts for industrial manufacturing in China,” added Ma Jun, environmentalist and director at IPE. “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.”

The IPE Green Supply Chain Map, which features both English and Chinese versions, aims to give companies real-time information to “ensure environmentally responsible operations from afar,” according to the IPE. It also allows customers and other members of 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 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 toward environmental violation records, as well as voluntarily disclosed annual emissions data.

It is hoped the creation of the map will 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.

“With this tool, we look forward to new levels of global collaboration and coordination with concerned companies and citizens around the world,” added Ma Jun, of the effort in China.

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