The UK government has launched a central Modern Slavery Register on which companies can upload their policies to demonstrate their commitment to taking action against this problem.
The Modern Slavery Register will replace the register run by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, which has previously represented major waste and recycling companies. Although still in the initial ‘beta’ format, it is open for companies to add their information.
Following the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, the waste and resources sector has been identified as an area with significant active cases of modern-day slavery. The Modern Slavery Act requires businesses with a turnover of 36 million pounds to produce a statement on preventing modern slavery in their operation and supply chains. However, there is no central registry where these statements can be collated and viewed.
Transparency in supply chains is becoming an essential part of business requirements. European legislation has been pushed forward by MEPs that would require companies to conduct due diligence throughout their supply chain, to root out abuses and environmental harm such as deforestation and pollution.
The legislation is expected to be tabled in June and will apply to all businesses operating within the EU, including those based outside EU member states, such as UK companies. This legislation will push businesses to look closely at their supply chains, identifying and remedying any aspects that may infringe upon the environment or human rights.
For the UK, the Environment Bill is expected to contain some measures that overlap with the European legislation, such as addressing illegal logging.
Charlotte Briggs, Engagement and Policy lead at Clarity Environmental, said: “It is encouraging to see positive steps being taken that facilitates businesses to act responsibly. Evidence suggests that two-thirds of modern slavery victims in the UK have been active in the waste industry, so it is vital for our sector to engage in action to prevent it.”
Charlotte added: “It is now not enough to only consider the activity carried out by your own operations, and we encourage all businesses to ensure they have control and visibility of their entire supply chain. It is time for all businesses to consider people and the planet; to be greener, more sustainable and more responsible and it is looking likely that legislation will increasingly force businesses to take action towards it.”