China is known to be one of the Earth’s highest polluting countries. With one of the largest populations and as one of the manufacturing capitals of the world, the heavy emission of greenhouse gasses is inevitable. All things considered, they have been somewhat hesitant to adopt environmentally-conscious practices in favor of cheaper production. With the global shift towards sustainability it seems that they are slowly beginning to follow suit. While many are applauding this move, importers concern is increasing due to the potential shut down of factories.
The Chinese government began their inspection of factories mid-summer and are still making their rounds. Importers have become increasingly uneasy due to the fact that the holiday season is fast approaching and exports to the U.S and other countries usually begins around this time. The holiday season is the highest profiting time of year for retailers and a loss or reduction of stock in stores could be detrimental in this already fragile retail landscape. It does appear that the effect will be one of great concern.
The apparel and textile sector has not been hit as hard as it was expected according Sourcing Journal Online. In their report, Nate Herman, senior vice president of supply chain at the American Apparel & Footwear Association, said he has heard of a few “temporary closures of factories.” But by large it appears the the apparel and textile industry has not suffered tremendously. In the same report, Wang Hua, general manager for China’s Ningbo Dragonsilk Fashion Co., said, “It’s mainly some dyeing factories and some finishing factories closed because they cannot control the pollution problem.” Garment dying and washing is one of the most polluting processes of the production of apparel so this does not come as a surprise. Due to the temporary shut down of these factories, it has increased strain on factories that did meet compliance as they have had to pick up the slack from the others.
All in all, exporters should not experience any crippling affects of the shut downs, although some delays in shipments are to be expected. The inspections of Chinese factories has been long overdue as China has two of the top 10 cities with the worst air pollution in the world, according to the World Health Organization. These are shutdowns are temporary in nature and will only leave a short-term strain on companies that do business with these factories. Hopefully, these will benefit the citizens of China and the environment at large by factories instilling sustainable practices in their everyday processes.