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Ethical Risk Assessment | Industries

Humans and nature in countries outside of Europe are adversely affected by the disposal of disused electrical devices from western industrial nations. Although all serious ethical problems in the field of electrorecycling, especially environmental impacts and working conditions which have an adverse impact on health, are primarily found in the informal sector of West African and Southeast Asian countries, the core problem lies within the European borders - in the transition between the formal and the informal sector.

Fish and fish products are a natural part of people's diets. Worldwide production has doubled over the past 30 years and the demand for fish continues to be strong. Because natural stocks have significantly declined due to intensive fishing, fish are becoming increasingly caught from breeding farms instead of in the wild. This shift only slightly contributes to a reduction in the risks associated in the industry and rather creates more problems.

Coffee is a product that can be seen as a pioneer for fair trade and sustainable production. Nevertheless, coffee production continues to be associated with significant damage to humans and the environment. This is true to varying degrees for all cultivation regions and the most important producer countries of Ethiopia, Brazil and Vietnam.

Every German consumes almost four kilograms of raw cocoa per year in the form of chocolate bars, Easter bunnies and other confectionery products. The chocolate market is recording good growth rates, the industry is flourishing. Only those cultivating the cocoa – mainly distributed along the northern tropics of West Africa – hardly have any share in the enormous revenues generated and are also struggling with declining yields and the emigration of the next generation.

Around 80 percent of the toys produced worldwide today come from China. More than four million people work there in production, which mostly takes place in the many small supply businesses. The strong seasonality of the business is very much a factor in this industry. The associated fluctuations in orders result in a large number of limited-term employment relationships in the supplier industry. Since almost 60 percent of toy sales are made in the run-up to Christmas during November and December.

Many complex work processes are required, from the cultivation of cotton to the dyeing and bleaching processes through to the tailoring and sewing of clothing, which are mostly not carried out in the countries that eventually receive the products. Which ethical-social risks in this part of the value-added chain of textiles occur very frequently is repeatedly illustrated by news stories, such as that of the Rana Plaza disaster.

Travel and holidays are generally associated with thoughts of recuperation, adventure and fun, so many people don't consider that the tourism industry has any direct associations with serious ethical problems. Yet it is a fact that central risk areas can be identified: especially the release of greenhouse gas emissions from tourist flights as well as overloading of the natural environment, the violation of the rights of the population in the destination country and critical working conditions. In particular the latter problems are primarily found in the destination countries, in general they do exist in relation to society as a whole while overlapping with other economic sectors.