Case studies in environmental supply chain management in Greater Pearl River Delta Region
Joyce C.S. Tsoi, The University of Hong Kong (Corporate Environmental Governance Programme), Hong Kong
Managing labour, human rights and environmental issues in the global supply chain has been central to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda in recent years. Many multinational companies see the complexity of supply chains as the main barrier in addressing the concerns. Published policy, codes of conduct and monitoring instruments, social compliance auditing have become the common tools that multinational companies use to monitor their suppliers. They are mostly aimed at reinforcing environmental, social and human rights compliance. The effectiveness of this approach is questionable and needs to be investigated via direct observations and interviews in specific sites.

The core methodology includes a review of the main types of multinational garment companies and their suppliers' background, local statutory requirements for Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China in the Greater Pearl River Region (Greater PRD), workers' in-depth interviews for each specific supplier in the three regions in order to obtain site-specific information. Significant environmental and social implications associated with its operations are analysed.

The findings suggest that the workers' awareness of the code is low and it is not an effective instrument in improving workers' condition on its own. This paper concludes that the above tools can be complemented with a two-way co-operative relationship between multinational companies and their suppliers in order to improve the reality of factory working conditions. Stakeholder dialogue combined with constructive actions is suggested as the main mechanism for introducing significant improvement into the supply chain management process.

Keywords: Environmental Supply Chain Management, corporate social responsibility, social compliance audit, code of conduct, garment multinationals

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