• Green Choice for Consumers
  • Green Choice for Brands
  • Green Choice for Suppliers

As consumers' understanding of environmental issues has gradually grown, so have their expectations for the products that they purchase. But how can consumers choose more environmentally-friendly products? And how can they really know that they are making green choices?

Think for a minuteabout a product that you have purchased, like your cell phone or your jacket. How do you know that this item, which has made your own life more convenient, hasn't caused pollution to the environment? Clearly, paying attention to the product's use and even recycling it is far from enough. Looking at the full life cycle of a product, the production processes are where the crux of environmental pollution occurs. But how can the average consumer know how that item was produced? And how can consumers know which brands are causing the biggest impact to the environment? How can consumers avoid buying from big polluters, or push them to improve their environmental performance?

IPE's Blue Map Database has collected over 1.68 million environmental violation records for factories and other enterprises in mainland China. A number of these factories are suppliers to some of our favorite brands, making the products that we use every day. Only when these factories are pushed to improve their environmental performance will consumers be purchasing environmentally-friendly products and truly be making green choices. And only when brands are pushed to disclose their suppliers' environmental information will consumers be able to judge which companies are actually reducing their environmental footprints.

Check and share brands' supply chain environmental management performance. Since IPE launched the Green Choice Initiative in 2007, we have continued to work with international and domestic brands to establish channels for communication and help these brands use IPE's Blue Map Database to supervise and manage the environmental performance of their suppliers. In 2015, IPE launched the Green Supply Chain CITI Evaluation to benchmark brands' supply chain environmental management by scoring and ranking brands. By serving as a green supply chain road map, the CITI index also helps brands guide suppliers to improve their environmental performance and disclose environmental information.

Check and share the real-time environmental performance of suppliers and factories.Consumers can use IPE's website to check and view explanations issued by suppliers about corrective actions to address their environmental violation records, and can also read stories about brands that are using IPE's resources to manage the environmental impacts of their supply chains.Consumers can also consult the "Green Choice"portal on the"Blue Map" app to directly check real-time updates about which brands have pushed suppliers to improve their environmental performance. These portals allow consumers to easily keep tabs on and share information about brands' supply chain environmental performance, to distinguish green brands from greenwashers, and to become real green consumers.

Manufacturing has fueled China's rapid economic growth: though China's production accounted for about 3% of worldwide production in 1990, that figure has since risen to around 25%. However, China's rapid industrialization has also directly contributed to many of China's current environmental challenges.

As the workshop of the world, a giant chunk of China's manufacturing is for export. In other words, although factories in China consume vast amounts of energy and emit loads of pollutants, they are not solely to blame for China's pollution woes. Foreign brands, and foreign consumers, directly affect China's environment through their purchasing decisions – so they also shoulder a responsibility to push brands and factories to improve their environmental performance.

Many brands misguidedly focus their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts on less important areas, such as emissions reductions at office spaces or making end products more sustainable. But the vast percentage of corporate environmental footprintscome from manufacturing – in the supply chain. Companies that care about their carbon, water, or pollution footprint need to care about the factories in their supply chain.

The CITI index not only serves as a tool to benchmark brands' supply chain environmental performance, but also provides a road map for brands to green their supply chains and take responsibility for environmental impacts. Here's what brands can and should do to make agreen choice:

Air pollution
Water pollution
Soil pollution

Map supplier lists and screen for environmental compliance.

Brands can start by mapping deep into their supply chains –going beyond just direct first-tier suppliers to those supply chain segments that pose the most significant environmental impacts, such as materials suppliers. Brands can demonstrate accountability by publicly disclosing a list of their suppliers. Brands should focus on detecting and correcting environmental compliance problems among their suppliers. For suppliers located in mainland China, brands can use IPE's China Pollution Map Database to screen supplier lists for government-issued supervision records of environmental noncompliance and use this information to target their cleanup efforts.

Require suppliers to provide public explanations and take corrective actions.

The IPE database is centered on the idea that information transparency levels the playing field and helps overcome barriers to pollution control. Brands should require suppliers with supervision records to publish explanations about why issues occurred and what corrective actions they have taken to resolve such problems. To incentivize suppliers to verify the effectiveness of corrective actions, IPE also offers the option to de-list records from IPE's database upon completion of an on-site third-party GCA audit or off-site document review.

Use public data disclosure to track on-going environmental performance.

Disclosing emissions information helps brands to track on-going environmental performance of suppliers and protects public's environmental right-to-know. Brands can require their suppliers to disclose their annual emissions data on IPE's online platform, including pollutant release and transfer registry (PRTR) information, energy usage and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions information. Brands can also actively monitor suppliers' real-time emissions data on the Blue Map app and local provincial platforms.

PRTR Disclosure Manual

Set targets for efficiency and emissions reductions that go beyond compliance.

If brands' suppliers are meeting the minimum standards for environmental compliance, they can do more – by pushing suppliers to further reduce their energy usage, water usage, and emissions. Data disclosure can serve as an important tool in this area by allowing brands to set actionable targets based on historical data and hold suppliers accountable for reductions.

Link environmental performance to supplier selection and incentivization.

Brands can facilitate environmental compliance by actively choosing to purchase from those suppliers with strong environmental performance and offering incentives to those suppliers that go above and beyond, showing that environmental performance and business benefits go hand-in-hand. Conversely, brands need to uphold business consequences for those suppliers that fail to meet standards or refuse to correct violation issues.

Brands that make a green choice not only ensure that their sourcing decisions are sustainable, but also actively contribute to solving pollution challenges in both China and beyond.

China is the workshop of the world, manufacturing the greatest share of goods sold on the world market. However, as a result of this production, China's environment endures tremendous stress. Because of increasing demands for environmental protection, some big corporations have begun incorporating environmental standards into their procuremenft decisions.

Since 2003, the Chinese government has adopted a series of laws and regulations to promote environmental information disclosure and public participation. Meanwhile, the environmental awareness of China's public has continuously grown, the capacity of environmental groups has increased, and companies have begun to realize the importance of environmental protection, thus creating a foundation for stakeholders to work together to solve pollution problems.

Since IPE's establishment, we have collected and collated environmental monitoring data published by different levels of governments, launching the Blue Map Database in September 2006. This database is a user-friendly only platform that enables the public to conveniently access environmental quality data and enterprise violation information published by government departments.

Search enterprise environmental violation records and issue statements to address existing records. Using IPE's Blue Map Database, suppliers can search for outstanding violation records, and issue explanations toward past records, explaining the reason for the record(s) as well as follow-up actions and the status of emissions compliance. Suppliers can also use the database to check for and manage environmental risks at their own sub-suppliers.

Complete third-party audits to de-list environmental violation records.Companies can undergo an off-site document review or anon-site third-party Green Choice Alliance (GCA) audit to verify that they have implemented corrective actions and achieved environmental compliance for the issue in the original violation record(s). A GCA audit may ultimately allow a supplier to de-list the violation record from IPE's database. Procedures for record removal are determined based on the date of the violation record and the details of the record. Off-site document reviews are conducted internally by IPE staff and do not require any additional fee, while on-site audits are conducted by approved third-party environmental auditing agencies and fees are agreed upon by the audited company and the auditing agency. For details about removal methods, please see the Guide to the Removal of Corporate Supervision Records.

Guide to Addressing and Removing Records from the Blue Map Database [ List of Green Choice Alliance Members ]

GCA third-party on-site audits are conducted by approved environmental auditing agencies and supervised by environmental NGOs to ensure transparency. GCA audits exhibit the following differences from typical third-party audits: 1) audits are based on government-issued environmental supervision data; 2) audits are focused on environmental performance and conducted by a qualified auditing agency with technical environmental knowledge; 3) environmental NGOs and community representatives participate and supervise the audit, and the final audit report must be verified by a network of NGOs, after which it is published for anyone to access ; 4) the audit centers on regularly-updated environmental data and the powerful ability for audit results to change based on the actual situation.