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Firms should compensate workers for job hazard

Sham and ShameThe new Indian rules on plastics require the plastic industry to share responsibility for plastic disposal too. This idea, old in the developing world and new here, is called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Now, a new idea compels us to consider another aspect of responsibility.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2011 00:21 IST

Sham and Shame
The new Indian rules on plastics require the plastic industry to share responsibility for plastic disposal too. This idea, old in the developing world and new here, is called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Now, a new idea compels us to consider another aspect of responsibility.

The United States’ National Toxicological Programme, released it’s 12th report on Carcinogens three days ago, identifying chemicals or exposures that could cause cancer in humans. They have included styrene, found in foam cups and as pellets in packaging. In this case, workers producing these plastics are the most likely to suffer the consequences.

So should we, as consumers, not insist industry create products which don’t cost workers their health, even lives? Why should EPR not extend to the health of workers, not just to the handling of materials? Otherwise, the best of our efforts to reduce our footprints and be green becomes a sham and a shame.

Our Desi Viewpoint
Living, sitting, shopping, and belonging here in India constantly reminds us that we are, thankfully, not entirely globalized and do retain our capacity to still embrace some forms of frugality. In this light, a global spat between two large green NGOs-Greenpeace USA and Ecological Internet (EI), an online advocacy organization, seems to miss the point. The fight is over Greenpeace’s campaign, where Ken breaks up with Barbie-the doll-because he accuses her of being packaged in paper from rainforests in Indonesia.

EI, meanwhile, says Greenpeace is pushing certified primary rainforest pulp, which also destroys rainforests and is just greenwash. It suggests Greenpeace protect forests by advocating for an end to all logging, for one. No one discusses reducing packaging, reusing paper, or simply doing away with the inner packaging-the kind of thing we still see here. Unless groups like this are all able to push for dramatically reduced consumption in their own countries, someone else in another country, particularly their poor, will continue to bear the brunt.