Innovation That Matters

App for shoppers rates how brands address forced & child labour


This is the fourth in a series of posts on traceability. Written by Springwise, and supported by IBM. Check out our previous posts on milk tracking by a Swedish dairy, a registration service for product recalls and supermarkets offering increased food traceability, or read more about building a smarter planet. _________ While traceability often deals with consumer-centric issues like toy recalls and contaminated peanut butter, a new product tracking app aims to protect not consumers, but manufacturers. Specifically, the children and adults who make the products we buy. Launched in time for the holiday shopping season, Free2Work‘s iPhone app hopes to educate consumers about forced and child labour. It gives ratings for products like Hasbro’s Beyblades, Pillow Pets, Apple’s iPad and other popular items. Manufacturers are assigned grades based on their policies, implementation, employee empowerment, response to child labor and transparency. Free2Work was developed by the Not for Sale Campaign and the International Rights Forum. Bama Athreya, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum, explains: “A broad range of certification programs exist that claim to protect worker rights. The volume and variety of these systems and product labels can be confusing to consumers. Free2Work helps to reduce the confusion and demonstrate to consumers how each program differs.” The app’s current list of brands and products is limited, and a barcode scanner for easy access to information would be more user-friendly. And, since each company’s rating can only be based on publicly available information, the scorecards might not be accurate. Still, it’s a first step to increased transparency about child and forced labour, helping consumers make informed shopping decisions that could pressure brands into ensuring that their factories and those of their suppliers are entirely free of forced labour. Spotted by: Katherine Noyes



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