Chemicals & Manufacturing

The U.S. obsession with soft toilet paper has driven the growth of brands like Cottonelle Ultra, Quilted Northern Ultra and Charmin Ultra. But fluffiness comes at a price: millions of trees harvested in North America and in Latin American countries, including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada.
The cyanide "leakage" that killed tons of fish in the Czech river Labe (Elbe) recently has re-focused public attention throughout central and Eastern Europe to the environmental and human dangers associated with this toxic chemical, especially when it spills into a nearby river or tributary.
Adidas, the German sportswear company, is making Olympics uniforms for the UK team at sweatshops in Tangerang city, near the main international airport of Jakarta, Indonesia. Young female workers are paid 5,000 rupiah (54 cents) an hour for a 65 hour work week, according to revelations made in the Independent newspaper.
The Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co. of Henan, China, is a green energy company, producing polysilicon for solar energy panels. But the byproduct -- silicon tetrachloride -- is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards.
As foreign buyers descend upon the United States, capturing widening swaths of the industrial landscape and putting millions of Americans to work for new owners, these two cities offer sharply competing narratives for a nation still uneasy about being on the selling end of the global economy.
Corporations carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times, but it is increasingly difficult to hold them to account. Economic globalization and the rise of transnational corporate power have created a favorable climate for corporate human rights abusers, which are governed principally by the codes of supply and demand and show genuine loyalty only to their stockholders.
Activists who have been blocking international bridges between Argentina and Uruguay for the past month to protest the construction of two paper pulp factories on the Uruguayan side of a river separating the two countries expressed mixed reactions to news that the two governments had reached an agreement for a temporary freeze in construction on Saturday.
After Nike's recent disclosure of the names and locations of 705 independent contract factories in its network, a plant visit reveals significant improvements since the 1990s.
The second article in our series on Global Compact companies focuses on Nike. This article, based on ''Still Waiting for Nike to Do It,'' a recent report published by Global Exchange in San Francisco, finds that Nike continually fails to uphold ''freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining,'' which is Principle 3 of the Global Compact. Nike made a commitment to respect this right in 1997 when it signed the Fair Labor Association voluntary workplace code of conduct along with other giant shoe and garment manufacturers like Reebok, Adidas, Liz Claiborne and Patagonia. This article covers the period since 1997.
The CEOs of three-quarters of the world's 100 largest companies have just completed an uncomfortable weekend at the tiny Swiss ski resort of Davos, while their companies' share prices nosedived on global stock markets, amid concern that the U.S. economy is staggering towards recession.