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“Does Asia really challenge the U.S. for Green Tech Supremacy?!”

By Loretta White
July 2, 2009
File under: Business News, Business Profiles, Carbon Emissions, clean energy, Clean Tech, Consumer Awareness, Economy, Green Jobs, Green Practices, Health, Invest Green, Non-Sustainable Products, Waste


Our editor sent me a link to a Time Magazine article titled “Asia Challenges the U.S. for Green Tech Supremacy”
I was enraged at the shallowness of this thought process. Having worked within global manufacturing for over fifteen years. I have seen the “new pink,” the buzz words that become the focus of corporations.

Spoken by the CEO’s to boards, stockholders and management; like “outsource,” ‘DIVERSITY,” “Supply Chain,” all of which have been great ideas that turned scapegoats; used for the purpose of getting a tax advantage, saving money, all about the stock price today. Nothing considered as to the long term ramifications. And this article is that one-dimensional.

With this knowledge, knowing others have similar insights I am throwing this out there to start a discussion.

Bill McGonagle, CFO of Toms of Maine says this; “Every well-run business needs strategic goals—we just believe that those goals need to include things like sustainability as well as profitability.

We’re guided by two foundational documents: a philosophical statement, our Reason for Being, which inspires our strategy; and a practical tool, our Stewardship Model, which forms the basis for our everyday decision-making.”

First of all, to be green, fully green we need to look at responsible choices;

The manufacturing process; Does the factory building this or any of it’s components have a sustainability factory process?

Resources consumed; water, energy, waste products created, are any green processes?

shipping costs; not just finished product but raw materials, assemblies, all things that go into the production of a finished product. All of these go via air, boat and truck when we could cut 30% of the final cost. That is estimated shipping costs of pre-manufacture. Yes, that is not counting shipping the final product!

Energy to manufacture; are fossil fuels being used? Is there waste and how is that being disposed of or is it creating another problem for the environment?

Sustainability of the factory; Do they have a sustainability process?

Packaging/Shipping materials; Look at assemblies and final product. Are the products recycled and can they again be recycled or reused after shipped? Is the shipping method utilizing “green technologies” or burning more fossil fuels? Is the packaging creating waste for landfills and encouraging logging?

Shipping methods; transporters using renewable resources and energy fuels?

Jobs; are there jobs being taken away from U.S. workers? What is the cost of their unemployment on the nation? Consider also food stamps, health care costs etc.

Quality; is the product going to last as long? Are there teams to service the product here?

Warranty; What is the value of the warranty? Will the company be in business in 2 years, 5 years? Will it be sold and under new management making the warranty invalid or will it just not make any difference as U.S. laws simply do not apply and Asia’s history has been to offer no assistance to recoup costs from less than reputable companies.

Pollution in emerging industrial countries; Are we giving business to factories and countries that have caused major environmental hazards and pollution that they still have not addressed? China has become such a problem NASA is monitoring their pollution via satellites

“China.. doubled its emissions of man-made pollutants to become the world’s largest emitter of tiny particles called pollution aerosols that are transported across the Pacific Ocean by rapid airstreams emanating from East Asia.”

Sewage & waste water, Is there a treatment for waste water or is it creating another problem? Less than half of Asia and 45% of China has access to sewage treatment plants, 3.7 billion tons of sewage is discharged into rivers, lakes and coastal water – some of which are used by the fish industry which the export to the U.S.

Trust to do the right thing, can we believe that policies are in place? No, I say we can not. Let’s look at the facts. What have we been promised? What promises have been kept? We can’t even get Asia to keep poisons from our food, baby formula, medication or toys. Are we able to trust their “green policies” are being kept – if they even have any.

1. Baby formula & dog food had melamine: Yes, the ugly 70’s style counter and table tops your grandparents had, added to purposely increase the protein count falsely. No consideration was done to who would die from this “manufacturing” decision

2. Other food and food products: As of October 8, 2008, one Singapore newspaper reported that half of the 2,200 food samples had already been tested for the presence of melamine

3. Lead paint in toys from china: – 24 toys, all manufactured in China

Even thou China agreed to ban lead paint in toys in 2007, one can locate many recent disregards for that “agreement.” Just today kick body boards made in China are being recalled because the logo violates U.S. lead paint standards!

Read more…

4. Lead poisoning so high in the U.S. new laws being drafted to, once again, test children coming into the school system.

5. Drinks with melamine after “agreement” not to put in food products: Apparently, coffee and drinks are not considered “food” in Taiwan!

6. Toothpaste with deadly contaminant – diethylene glycol made in China: A solvent used in antifreeze that killed 107 Americans when it was introduced in an elixir 70 years ago.

7. Fish / aquaculture – the raising of seafood products – has become big business in Asia, especially in China. While less than half of Asia has access to sewage treatment plants China is the #1 supplier of seafood to the U.S. Most of the fish raised in sewage contaminated water with putrefying bacteria they then add insult to injury and add drugs, antibiotics and chemicals that are dangerous and many are banned by the FDA.

The stunning news followed WND’s report last week that FDA inspectors report tainted food imports from China are being rejected with increasing frequency because they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs.

How the reporter of the times article concludes that “East Asians appear more committed to a green agenda than America” is beyond me. Apparently he has been stationed Hong Kong too long and gotten disjointed from the U.S. I believe Americans are very committed to being healthy, keeping their children safe and doing their contribution to make sure our planet is there for them as it was for us.

What is the cost in lives, illness, recalls, payouts, civil penalties, lawyers, etc. I am sure that it is more than the cost to make these items in the U.S.

In the end or looking at the “overall picture” does it “actually” cost less coming from another country? Or are we merely horses with blinders on following the leader?

And then we have the Europeans who have been harnessing smart and “green” technologies for generations; Holland’s windmills, vehicles with dual fuel sources, they so far have the lead and I for one am happy to be second at this time. As intellectual property goes, the U.S. has superior minds and with the will to be the largest supplier of renewable products, I am just happy to be in the race.

Thanks for reading.. look for follow ups on this story, close to my heart! What do you think? What experiences can you add to this? Let’s here from you.... NOW!!! Before it leaves your mind!

Loretta White, Sustainability Expert

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