Greetings from a soon-to-be greener China!
Posted October 22, 2008
Greetings from Beijing, China, where NRDC's multi-year effort to reduce pollution from factories got a major bump from Wal-Mart.
I was here in the room when Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott told a room of Wal-Mart's 900 Chinese suppliers that they will have to waste less energy and stop polluting (as much) if they want to keep making goods for Wal-Mart. (See the Wall Street Journal's coverage; subscription required.)
If you're wondering whether this is big - the answer is YES... if Wal-Mart sticks to its commitments and IF there is expertise and capital for the suppliers to really figure out where their waste is occurring and how to fix it. That's what NRDC is doing for 10 factories here, so that we can then create a set of best practices that we hope factories here in China - and eventually all over the word - can use to be cleaner, greener, and even save money.
NRDC's Linda Greer has been behind this effort from the get-go, and she was on the panel here at the Wal-Mart conference to try to explain to the suppliers how energy efficiency will help them and the planet. Afterward, NRDC's booth at the "trade fair" was swamped with Chinese manufacturers asking how to implement Linda's ideas.
More to come on this soon, but now I am packing up from Beijing and we're heading to Wuxi to see a rayon factory. Yesterday I was telling a Chinese journalist that we were going to try to figure out how to make rayon without so much devastating pollution and energy use. She said, "Yes, that already exists. It's called silk."