How Motorola, Samsung and other giants break China's pollution rules

Eighteen top multinational and Chinese corporations, including Motorola and Samsung violated a new Chinese environmental regulation in its first year of enforcement, a Greenpeace report has shown. The report, entitled 'Silent Giants. An investigation into corporate environmental information disclosure in China' describes how companies, either part of the 2008 Fortune Global 500 or 2008 Fortune China 100 lists, have violated the Measures on Environmental Information Disclosure (for Trial Implementation).

How Motorola, Samsung and other giants break China's pollution rules

Eighteen top multinational and Chinese corporations, including Motorola and Samsung Electronics, violated a new Chinese environmental regulation in its first year of enforcement, Greenpeace shows in a report published in October 2009. The report, entitled 'Silent Giants. An investigation into corporate environmental information disclosure in China' describes how companies, either part of the 2008 Fortune Global 500 or 2008 Fortune China 100 lists, have violated the Measures on Environmental Information Disclosure (for Trial Implementation). This regulation requires companies to publish their pollution information within 30 days of being reported by local environmental bureaus as breaking pollution standards.

  • The multinationals are: Shell, Samsung Electronics, Nestle, LG, Kraft, Motorola, Denso and Bridgestone.
  • The Chinese companies are: Sinopec, China Shenhua Energy, Aluminum Corporation of China, Dongfeng Motor Group, China Resources Enterprise, China International Marine Containers Group, China Coal Energy, Guangdong Midea Holding, Weichai Power and Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corp. 


“It is shocking that these companies that are leaders in their respective industries did not even manage to obey the most basic environmental regulation in China,” said Tianjie Ma, Senior Campaigner for Greenpeace China.

“The public has a right to know about what these corporations are discharging in the rivers and lakes around their communities and what risks they face.”

Even more worrying is that local environmental bureaus caught two of these companies, the Aluminum Corporation of China and Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corp., using or discharging hazardous chemicals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic.

Weak enforcement of and ambiguities within the regulation itself are also to blame.

“Local governments must hold companies accountable for violating regulations – they are virtually allowing these companies to disrespect the central government’s policies,” added Ma.

“Moreover, the government should clearly define which enterprises are required to disclose environmental information on which major pollutants.” 

Strong regulation on environmental information disclosure has been one of the most effective and low-cost policy tools that helped reduce industrial pollution in countries such as the United States and Japan. 

“Evidence shows that a strong information disclosure system helped reduce pollution in the United States by 61% in 20 years  ” Ma said.

“It is crucial that China establishes a strong platform, similar to the TRI  and PRTR  systems in developed countries, where a wide range of companies are required to publish comprehensive pollution data that is easily accessible to the public.”