Nike and CNOOC kicked off China green 100

Oil company CNOOC and sportswear manufacturers Nike and Lining were among 20 companies removed from the China 100 Top Green Companies List at last month’s Annual Summit of China Green Companies, held in Wuhan. Reasons for removal included pollution and failures in food safety, quality control, legal and operational issues. IBM and Tencent were two of the companies included on the green list for pushing through successful sustainable development measures.

China 100 Top Green Companies List committee member Mike Thompson commented: “Getting on the China 100 Top Green Companies List is not just about being ‘green’, its also about the a company’s capacity for sustainable development and their sense of responsibility. We don’t just require that a company is ‘green’, we also look at is social, economic qualities, as well as its ability to innovate. A balance should be found between a company’s social and economic needs, with consideration to ethics and the environment.”

CNOOC’s exclusion from the list was blamed on the June 2011 Bohai oil spill on the north-eastern coast of China.  Apart from initial attempts to cover up the incident, the company has been accused of “sticking its head in the sand” once the spill had been revealed, in what was dubbed an “ostrich” policy. 

Although CNOOC eventually paid one billion yuan in compensation, they failed to compensate fishermen who suffered as a result of the incident. Furthermore, there has been no news of the environmental protection foundation which CNOOC purportedly set up at the end of 2011.

Nike and Lining were struck from the list after Greenpeace’s “Dirty Laundry” investigation, which revealed incidents of toxic water pollution in the production of clothes for export. The report revealed that clothes had been contaminated with nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE), “environmental hormones” which could lead to early puberty in children. Such substances are banned in the European Union among other regions, and China itself has prohibited them from being imported to or exported from the country. 

Food safety issues are also causing problems, and a caused a number of companies to be dropped from the China 100 Top Green Companies List. In the wake of a media storm, which looked at the use of plasticizer in food products in Taiwan, and the Taiwanese State General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine announced a ban on food exports. 

Three products in particular were found to contain toxic additives: two types of sports drink and an asparagus juice. Then in December 2011, another toxic substance — Aflatoxin M1 – was found 140% in excess of safe levels in milk products from Mengniu Dairy. This was not the first time that the company has been involved in a food scandal, Mengniu’s image was damaged last year after 251 engineering students in Yulin were poisoned by a custard containing melamine. 

This article is translated and published here as part of our Green Growth project, a collaboration between chinadialogue and The Energy Foundation.

Translated by chinadialogue volunteer Clare Pennington