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inspected,” is such an example. “They have a
fumigation chamber in Yiwu but the chances of
your getting a fumigation certificate are nil.” If
all the factories adhered to the proper certifica-
tion processes, either the goods or the factory
would fail the inspection, pushing the prices up.
“I always fight with some of my supply chain
guys and I tell them I don’t want to buy fake
documents,” he says. “And they go, they’re not
fake. They’re real. They just didn’t go through
the process.”
The director says, “When I talk to the guys
in the bigger companies, and these guys are in
charge of the whole supply chain, they have no
idea this is going on.” It is credibility and authen-
tication issues like these that make it nearly im-
possible for companies, even those with internal
auditing systems to make good on their claims
client companies, it’s absolutely unrealistic to ex- of green supply chain management.
pect suppliers to measure up to client company’s
standards. “If you ask a factory to be 100% com- Lesson 6: Green is a smart long-term solution
pliant,” he says, “you ask it to kill itself.”
“There is really a faking business,” he says. Still, efforts to affect change are having some
“You have some buyers who want to buy in fully impact. Frances Way, of the Carbon Disclosure
compliant factories. You have some factories that Project, which partners with client companies
have become experts in making fake documents, pressure suppliers to disclose carbon emissions,
in teaching the workers how to answer the audi- believes that progress is being made. “It’s very
tors. And you have some auditing companies that much a business approach,” she says. “When
have become expert at the way to say things that you’re dealing with supply managers you’re not
leads [to] ‘ok this factory is compliant,’ even if they dealing with marketing; this is clearly something
haven’t said it really.” that’s embedding itself in the company.”
Independent and in-house audits Of course, she un-
and inspections almost never lead to derstands that simply
a company cutting a supplier, says pressuring suppliers will
Vezin. Instead there’s a back and not effect much change.
Supply chains
forth of recommendations and re- “Supply chains are like
are like
ports. According to the manufactur- balloons: if you squeeze
ing director, these communications them in one place they
balloons: if sometimes never lead to any real pop out somewhere
you squeeze
change. else, so there’s a clear
them in
Even those documents that aren’t need for collaboration.”
faked are sometimes not credible. What’s important, say
one place Independent and in-house audits many of those who work
they pop
and inspections almost never lead with companies to im-
out somew
to a company cutting a supplier, prove their sustainability
says Vezin. Instead there’s a back practices, is not to be
here else, and forth of recommendations and using 100% compliant
so there’s a
reports. According to the manufac- suppliers, but to be will-
clear need for
turing director, these communications sometimes ing to be work with honest suppliers and be willing
never lead to any real change. “I know that 70-80% to improve. “The key issue is not about whether
collaboration. of the products going through are not compliant.” a company is perfect or not,” says Ma Jun. “The
Sometimes it is easier for certificates to be most important things is when you have a prob-
Frances Way,
granted even if factories are not compliant. The lem, how do you respond to it.”
Carbon Disclosure
industrial manufacturing director says that Yiwu, For some companies, pressure from their cli-
“filled with thousands of factories that couldn’t be ent companies is a reason to make changes. Wal- JULY/AUGUST 2009 31
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