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Western Companies, Suppliers Greening Asia Factories

From Environmental Leader , Published 08 January 2014

‚ÄčIn the last five years, Western companies and occasionally their Asian suppliers have begun to build green-certified or environmentally friendly factories in developing countries.

The burgeoning certification trend  could lead to significant water and energy savings  down the line because so many consumer and industrial goods are made in  Asia , the New York Times reports.

For instance,  Intel  has cut its global energy bill for $111 million since 2008 after making $59 million worth of sustainability investments in 1,500 worldwide, the newspaper reports. The projects have offset emissions equivalent to the amount produced by 126,000 American households a year.

Last month, Nike opened its  first water-free facility,  which will end the use of water and process chemicals from fabric dyeing at its Taiwanese contract manufacturer Far Eastern New Century. The process, which  Nike  has dubbed ColorDry, reduces dyeing time by 40 percent, energy use by about 60 percent and the required factory footprint by 25 percent compared to traditional methods, the company says.

Still, the certification trend is in its infancy. Only about 300 manufacturing facilities in Asia are certified or waiting for certification through the  US Green Building Council ‘s LEED rating tool.

Some Western companies are hiring personnel or instituting new processes to better monitor manufacturing as well. In August, one month after an investigative report accused one of Apple’s major suppliers of dozens  environmental, safety and labor violations , the company began  searching for an environmental manager .

At the time,  Apple  said the manager would work with the company’s Asia Pacific and Japan Environmental Affairs Team, which supports the company’s corporate environmental groups to deliver programs on reducing its  carbon footprint , elimination of hazardous substances,  energy efficiency , design for recycling, product recycling and take-back solutions.

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