Friday, November 11, 2011

Sustainable Apparel Manufacturing Standards

You are welcome to join the LinkedIn Group: Sustainable Apparel Manufacturing Standards to participate in the discussions:)

We are in the process of developing a framework for Sustainable Apparel Manufacturing in an industry-led initiative. All stakeholders are welcome to join the process.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CSRWorks looking for experienced CSR consultants

CSRWorks is looking for more hands, and heads, to keep pace with increasing work. We are looking for a few consultants/associates. Get in touch if you have any of these:

  • Experience in developing GRI reports

  • Experience in providing independent assurance for CSR reports

  • Experience in developing sustainability standards and indicators

  • Experience in green manufacturing principles and implementation

  • CSR training

  • Community Investment (intern/research opportunity)

It's important that you have some prior experience.
Write to me if you think you fit any of the profile. Send you mail to:

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Watch what Singapore CEOs say about CSR

CSRWorks' first editions of CSR Videos will be released during the International Singapore Compact CSR Summit on Sept 5-6 at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.

CSRWorks partnered with Singapore Compact and Apostrophe Films to produce these videos. The videos are based on my conversations with Singapore's top seven business leaders and CEOs.
This edition includes three videos. Two of these are based on interviews with CEOs and business leaders respectively. The third video is on Singapore Compact itself.

Participating companies include NTUC Fair Price, Senoko Power, Power Seraya, City Developments Ltd, Keppel Land, Asia Pacific Breweries and Cerebos.

In the coming days, we would also release seven videos for each of the individual CEO and business leader.

All the videos will soon be available on which is currently being revamped. Videos will also be available on Singapore Compact website.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Singapore Sustainable Fashion Competition

Singapore's first sustainable fashion competition successfully ended yesterday with a grand finale organized at lush green Hort Park.

The competition which has been underway since April this year was jointly organized by Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Textile and Fashion Federation (TAFF). A total of 44 fashion designers participated in the competition.

I have been closely involved with this competition from the beginning that included conducting workshops for the participating designers to help them understand deeper sustainability issues in the fashion value chain. It was gratifying to see the seven finalists presenting their sustainable fashion collection in the grand finale fashion show. These finalists have already received prominent coverage in Urban, The Straits Times' fashion magazine on Friday.

Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State (MOS) for Ministry of Trade and Industry was the Guest of Honour at the grand finale of the competition today.

WDA’s Chief Executive, Mr Wong Hong Kuan said: “The transformation of the textile and fashion industry has presented opportunities for the workforce to continue to build their knowledge and capabilities in this field. WDA will continue to develop new programmes in emerging skill areas with the industry to provide a pipeline of skilled talent to ensure that the industry continues to stay relevant and competitive to enjoy sustainable growth.”

Early in the morning, I joined four other judges to decide the winners. Three winners were selected. Two of them will travel to Paris Fashion Week in a few weeks as their prize in addition to cash booty of $1500 each.

The third winner will represent Singapore in a regional round in Hong Kong organized by the Society of Dyers and Colourist (SDC) award, a United Kingdom, London competition, called the SDC International Design Competition 2011 that shared the same vision of sustainability.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

GRI's own annual report published

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sets standards for sustainability reporting. So it's own annual sustainability report evokes lot of interest. GRI has just published its fifth Sustainability Report covering the fiscal year July 2009 - June 2010.

A must-read analysis of the GRI annual report by my colleague Elaine Cohen here.

GRI Sustainability Report can be downloaded here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

GRI's own report released

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has released its own Year In Review report for the year 2009-2010. See the report here.

Introduction to the GRI report is written by my colleague and reputed sustainability expert Elaine Cohen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

DyStar aims to become carbon-smart company

A significant amount of environmental impact in the apparel & textile industry comes from the use of dyes, colors and chemicals. So dyes and colors manufacturers have an important role to play in promoting sustainability in the textile supply chain by developing and introducing eco-friendly chemicals. Equally important is for them to reduce their own carbon and water footprint.

DyStar Group, a top manufacturer of eco-friendly dyes for the textile industry, has taken the lead by releasing it's first carbon footprint report.

The company says "the report will serve as the baseline for measuring future progress in reducing DyStar’s carbon emissions and is a key component of what will be DyStar’s first Sustainability Report which is due to be published in Q4 2011."

Announcing the release of the report Steve Barron, CEO commented, “We are today taking the first few steps on the journey towards sustainability. As a responsible company we acknowledge that we have a critical role to play in mitigating climate change by introducing products and services that reduce carbon emissions of our customers, and by reducing our own carbon footprint.”

Barron says that Carbon reduction teams are being established at each of the major production sites to drive down the carbon intensity of the manufacturing operations and to set DyStar on the path to becoming a carbon-smart company.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

India's corruption international issue

India has today arrested prominent anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare. So this is the state of democracy in India. Those opposing corruption are promptly arrested, beaten, harassed and discredited.

India's perverse corruption law (yes, there is one that no one abides by) even allows swift arrests of those who pay bribe. The only ones who get off scotfree and left to plunder the nation's assets are the ones who receive bribes and breed bribery.

How do you expect companies to oppose corruption in this kind of country? Companies are just helpless and silent victims of 66 years of humiliating corruption.

International intervention is needed to save hapless people of India from the corrupt alliance between politicians, bureaucrats, and criminal gangs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

State of sustainability in Singapore

Interesting stuff on the state of CSR in Singapore in The Business Times (10 Aug), the main business daily of Singapore.

I had the opportunity to share my views for the story. I have always believed that Singapore companies have the potential to lead sustainability in Asia:)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Sustainable Fashion Competition, Singapore: An Update

Singapore's first sustainable fashion competition titled Fashionably Sustainable Competition is progressing well. Participating designers have undergone the required workshop on Sustainable Fashion Value Chain, and have submitted their concept to TAFF, the organizer.

I had fun, and enjoyed, conducting the workshop for the participants even though it meant working on almost all the weekends in April and May. It was worth it. Participants demonstrated amazing drive and creativity during the workshop. Going by the feedback received, participants found the workshop of immense use and gave excellent rating to the course. Very satisfying.

The sustainable fashion course, championed by the Workforce Development Agency of Singapore, TAFF and has put Singapore on the world map of sustainable fashion talent development. And I am happy to be part of this exciting story by helping developed the sustainable fashion competency national framework and the training programme.

The course has also been included in the fashion technology diploma programmes run by, fashion industry's leading school in Singapore.

Sessions run for the competition participants have been extensively filmed to produce a video which will be showcased during the final fashion show.

The final fashion show is on the 1st Sept at Singapore's gardening hub Hort Park. Twelve finalists will make it to the final cat walk.

I am on the judging panel and eagerly looking forward to the next round:)

Will keep you posted.

If you want to know more about the competition, see here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kraft upping sustainability goals

When Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury a couple of years ago, concerns were raised that Cadbury's ethical image would suffer. Some even said Kraft takeover would hit Cadbury's ethical rating. But nothing of that sort has happened. Kraft continues to up sustainability goals for the group, including Cadbury.

They have just announced more aggressive sustainability goals. A summary of their new goals:

From a 2010 base, by the end of 2015 Kraft Foods plans to:

·Increase sustainable sourcing of agricultural commodities by 25 percent

·Reduce energy use in manufacturing plants by 15 percent

·Reduce energy-related CO2 emissions in manufacturing plants by 15 percent

·Reduce water consumption in manufacturing plants by 15 percent

·Reduce waste at manufacturing plants by 15 percent

·Eliminate 50,000 metric tons (100 million lbs.) of packaging material

·Reduce 80 million km (50 million miles) from transportation network

See here my story in Ethical Corporation magazine on the much debated Cadbury takeover.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Young CSR Leaders Award Competition

Singapore Compact is organizing Young CSR Leaders Award competition in association with CDL, a property developer. The competition is open to students from Junior Colleges, Institute of Technical Education, Polytechnics, Universities and International Schools in Singapore.

This is a team competition with each comprising 4-6 members who all must be from the same school.Participating teams will be paired with a selected SME. Respective teams will have to come up with a CSR strategy and action plan for their assigned SME.

Each team will also be provided with a mentor. Glad to share that I will be mentoring one of the teams.

A panel of judges will decide the winners of the competition.

The top team will take home $4000 in cash prize. The first and second runners up will get $2000 and $1000 respectively. There are prizes for other participating teams as well.

Registration for the competition will close on the 31st March 2011.

The competition is a great opportunity for Singapore's SMEs to access advice on CSR. At the same time, the contest engages with students who are the future leaders, and this is an opportunity for them to get a first hand feel of CSR.

For more information please contact Ms Minju Kim (

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fashionably Sustainable Competition : Challenging fashion designers to create responsible fashion

Asia's first sustainable fashion competition is being organized in Singapore. Sponsored by the Workforce Development Agency of Singapore and organized by the Textile and Fashion Federation of Singapore (TAFF), the competition which is titled "Fashionably Sustainable Competition" is now open for registration.

Participating fashion designers will need to create six designs that meet the sustainable fashion criteria of being environmentally and socially friendly. WDA and TAFF will organize sustainable fashion workshops to educate the participating designers in sustainable fashion principles.

WDA is Asia's first government agency which has taken initiative to promote sustainable fashion talent to keep Singapore textile fashion industry competitive as more and more multinational retailers seek to implement sustainable fashion principles across business.

Finalists will produce three selected designs into outfits which will be showcased in a sustainable fashion show in August. The winner will get $1500 cash prize and a free trip to Paris Fashion Week!

Just to add, I am deeply associated with this event. First, I helped developed the national competency framework for sustainable fashion for Singapore. Then I developed a sustainable fashion course which will be taught to WSQ Fashion Diploma students. I will also be conducting the workshop for the participants of sustainable fashion competition. More on this here.

For those interested in participating in the Fashionably Sustainable Competition, here is more information.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Cool brands fail in climate test

A new study by responsible investment research firm EIRIS says that two-thirds of the world's top 100 brands are failing on climate change.

The report "Cool Brands versus Hot Brands?" focuses on the world's leading 100 brands, and finds that 69% of those with a high climate change impact lack adequate policies, management systems and reporting on climate change.

According to the study, those who don't get it include Porsche. And those who get, and have shown leadership, include Gillette, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Honda.

EIRIS has applied its climate change methodology to give climate score to studied companies. Here is the report. But if you are hoping to find the list of the 100 brands and their respective scores or ranking, you will be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Palm oil company's profits double in spite of reputational disasters

CSR consultants would like you to believe that reputational disasters can hit a company's bottom line. If this was true, palm oil giant Golden Agri Resources' balance sheet should have been bleeding. But that is not the case. Golden Agri has reported that its fourth quarter net profits more than doubled to $1.17 billion.

Golden Agri, part of Indonesia's Sinar Mas, has been at the centre of Greenpeace campaigns for allegedly destroying natural forests in Indonesia to pave way for oil palm plantations. Last year, the company actually faced the most intense campaign, and also saw its shabbily designed counter-attack on Greenpeace badly backfired. Golden Agri also continued to lose multinational customers due to accusations of forest destruction.

2010 should have been the company's worst year if reputational disasters had any effect. But actually, last year has turned out to be the best year in the company's history in terms of profits.

One can still be optimistic and say that the company would have made even greater profits if it had a better sustainability reputation. Who knows?

Multinational companies such as Unilever, Kraft, Nestle, Burger King and HSBC have deserted Sinar Mas group companies, under pressure from campaigners. The question then is who is fueling the group's growth, and profits? Well, the company's profits are pouring in from large developing countries, mainly China and India. The company plans to add 1.3 million tonnes crushing capacity in China this year to meet growing demands there.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Palm oil's new pipeline: Africa

Indonesia's two year moratorium on commercial development of forests and peat lands, expected to come into effect this year, is forcing palm oil producers to look elsewhere for expansion as the demand and price of the controversial commodity soar. And Africa is the new destination for many.

Malaysia-based Sime Darby Plantation, world's largest crude palm oil producer, is said to be considering a $2.5 billion investment in Cameroon to develop 300,000 hectares of oil palm plantation. The company currently has 530,000 hectares of palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Cameroon government may find the proposal attractive as the project promises to create 30,000 jobs in the impoverished country. But the expansion may alarm environmental groups who have been campaigning against the industry's unsustainable practices including destruction of natural forests.

Sime's expansion plans also include ventures in Liberia where the company has been granted a concession of 220,000 hectares.

Other palm oil giants which have announced plans to expand to Africa in recent months include Wilmar International, Olam International and Golden Agri. While Golden Agri has signed a $1.6 billion project in Liberia, Olam has announced a 300,000 hectares project in Gabon. UK-listed Equatorial Palm Oil already operates 169,000 hectares oil palm plantation in Liberia.

Palm oil prices have now crossed $1100 a tonne, almost doubling from the average $500 a tonne over the last decade. That explains frantic expansion plans by the industry players. The key question is: how will the industry ensure its expansion in Africa is above board, and sustainable?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Editorial ethics at Ethical Corporation

Ethical Corporation, the magazine that I write for, also has a significant conferencing business. I have been asked, on many occasions, how we maintain integrity and impartiality of what we write in the magazine and whether we can afford to embarrass the companies which are our conference clients or sponsors.
Well, here is the answer straight from Toby Webb, founder of Ethical Corporation magazine and himself a respected corporate responsibility commentator, in a podcast with Brendan May.

Friday, February 25, 2011

India's textile dyers opposing tighter environmental controls

Textile dyeing and processing industry in India is resisting the demands of zero liquid discharge system (ZLD). Environmental Campaigners want the industry to switch to zero discharge to save soil and water resources from being further polluted. The industry is responsible for releasing millions of liters of toxic wastewater which has destroyed water and soil systems in the neighborhood.

India's two largest textile manufacturing hubs are in Tirupur (South India) and Ludhiana (North India). On petitions filed by environmentalists, Madras High Court has ordered to shut down all dyeing units in Tirupur for failing to implementing ZLD.

In Ludhiana, the dyers associations are opposing similar demands from a local environmental activist. Read here.

These campaigns also expose a serious fault in multinational retailers' supply chain responsibility programmes. Retailers' current code of conduct programme does not extend to textile dyeing and processing units even though these units account for the largest environmental impact in the textile supply chain.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Court order to shut down polluting textile units in South Indian city

Hundreds of textile bleaching and dyeing mills in the South Indian city of Tirupur have been ordered to shut down by the Madras High Court in response to public petitions. Tirupur is one of the largest textile manufacturing hubs in Asia where most multinational retailers have suppliers.

Farmers groups have alleged that textile units dumped untreated effluent in the Noyyal river which farmers rely on for irrigation.

The court order also includes closing down Common Effluent Treatment Plants and Integrated Effluent Treatment Plants in the area. These plants were set up by the government agencies mostly to treat wastewater from textile mills. In a previous order in 2006, the court had directed these plants to achieve "zero liquid discharge" level. In the latest court filing, it is alleged that these units failed to comply with the court order and continued to operate and pollute the area.

Textile industry associations have banded together to put pressure on the government to allow effluent discharge until an acceptable solution is found. Farmers lobby is opposed to any leniency toward polluting textile industry.

Observers say that the industry has not taken its responsibility for wastewater treatment seriously in spite of repeated campaigns by farmers in the past. The industry is accused of destroying large tracts of farmland by contaminating water and land by dumping untreated toxic wastewater.

There have been reports in the past alleging that though textile units install wastewater treatment plants to meet retailers' code of conduct requirement, they seldom operate these plants because running treatment plants costs money! Government inspectors don't mind looking the other way as long as their palms are greased.

Tirupur is a key sourcing destination for knitted garments for a number of large and small multinational retailers. None of them has reacted publicly so far to the developments in Tirupur.

The city's textile industry also provides thousands of jobs. These jobs are now at risk as hundreds of units are now closed due to the court order. Trade unions have given a call to shut down the entire city tomorrow to put pressure on the government to find a solution so that units can be opened and jobs can be saved.

See more here

And here