Distributor:  Global Environmental Justice
Length:  8 minutes
Date:  2015
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Mandarin
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available


Curator imageFatos Radoniqi, Co-chair and Associate Professor of Business Administration (Finance), Whittier College

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Lifting the Veil on Polluters in China

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In central Beijing, a small but ambitious environmental NGO is calling on major international corporations including Apple, Walmart and Hugo Boss to take responsibility for suppliers who are fouling China's air and water as they produce goods for Western consumers.

Lifting the Veil on Polluters in China

Short synopsis
This is a success story about a small but ambitious environmental Chinese NGO, accepted and supported by the government, that is calling on major international corporations including Apple, Walmart and Hugo Boss, to take responsibility for suppliers who are fouling China's air and water as they produce goods for Western consumers.

Longer synopsis
Founded by Ma Jun in 2006, the Institute of Pollution and Environmental Affairs (IPE) prepared for its campaign by examining 200,000 pollution reports provided by China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The ministry maintains a surprising policy of publishing its finding, even when the polluting factories are state owned.

Using this data the IPE prepared maps that are accessible to anyone with access to the internet, pinpointing polluters. Polluting factories were that are linked to global corporations and the companies are put on notice: clean up your suppliers or risk exposure. When Apple failed repeatedly to respond to the IPE advisory, the IPE launched a "Poison Apple" campaign that embarrassed Apple, prompted a clean up, and led to Apple becoming a leading supporter of the project.

This is our pollution
The IPE and its American partner, the Natural Resources Defense Council, say Western consumers have a moral responsibility and ethical obligation to help solve China's pollution problem, since the world made a decision to concentrate so much of its manufacturing in one country.

"China's pollution problem is caused by about 1/3 by export to America and to Western Europe  So this pollution is our pollution. And I think we have an ethical obligation to help reduce it." --Linda Greer, Natural Resource Defence Council (USA)

Now the group is pushing global corporations to reveal the full list of factories that produce goods for them in China so that the IPE can monitor their clean up. They are also encouraging the public to help. Another campaign, shown in the video, will harness citizen scientists to keep an eye on polluters. A new app develloped by the IPE allows anyone with a phone to monitor their local factories to see whether they violate their operating permits.


Related films in the Global Environmental Justice collection
The True Cost
Searching for Sacred Mountain
Death by Design

Related databases

The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), China
This NGO, described above, publishes an interactive map of polluting factories in China. Supported by data provided by the Ministry of Ecology and Environmental,

EJ Atlas
An interctive global atlas in multiple languages locates 3500 environmental conflicts.

Download the transcript (PDF)

 This program includes close captions and an interactive transcript when viewed as part of the Global Environmental Justice Documentaries collection

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Main credits

Sam Lazaro, Fred de (film director)
Sam Lazaro, Fred de (film producer)
Sam Lazaro, Fred de (reporter)

Distributor credits

Fred de Sam Lazaro with research from Shi Lihong and Gary Marcuse, with funding from the Pulitzer C

Fred de Sam Lazaro

Produced by Fred de Sam Lazaro with research from Shi Lihong, Gary Marcuse, with funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Docuseek subjects

Environmental Justice
Asian Studies
Toxic Chemicals
Environmental Health
Environmental Science
Toxic Waste
Government Policy
Corporate Social Responsibility
Citizenship, Social Movements and Activism
Human Rights
Global / International Studies
Communication and Media Studies
East Asia
United States
Law and Legal Studies
Rivers and Lakes

Distributor subjects

Advertising and Marketing
Asian Studies
Communication and Media Studies
Corporate Social Responsibility
Environmental Education
Environmental Health
Environmental Justice
International Studies
Norh American Studies
Public Health
Toxic Chemicals
Toxic Waste
United States


China, Ma Jun, Institute for Pollution and Environmental Affairs (IPE), supply chains, air and water pollution, fashion industry, corporate responsibility, transparency, clothing manufacturing, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Apple, WalMart, H&M, consumers, Fred de Sam Lazaro, Gary Marcuse, Global Environmental Justice Documentaries collection, Clean air and water, environmental ethics,; "Lifting the Veil on Polluters in China "; Global Environmental Justice

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