Industry Market Trends

Are American Products Eco-Friendlier?

January 31, 2012

Bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States was one initiative highlighted in President Obama's State of the Union address this month, but besides creating jobs, will the patriotic shift make a difference on the environment?

 Yes, argues environmental journalist Jennifer Grayson, in her Eco-Etiquette blog: "When you choose products manufactured here at home, you avoid the extra fuel expense of shipping foreign-made goods halfway around the world."

 Toxic working environments at supplier and partner factories overseas are another challenge, Grayson stresses. In its iEconomy series, which examines challenges within the global high-tech industry, the New York Times highlights the hazardous conditions that pose a threat to offshore factory workers and the environment, focusing on Apple and its manufacturing partners' unsafe work practices record.

 "Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use poisonous chemicals to clean iPhone screens," the Times reports, pointing out that certain safety standards are not practiced universally.

 Meanwhile, the president is striving to introduce new eco-incentives for U.S. manufacturers. In his State of the Union address, Obama proposed a plan: "Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs."

 Such a bill could be the solution to creating jobs and helping the environment, if and when it will pass.

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