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Apple and Wal-Mart Are Helping China Crack Down on Polluters

  • Online database records at least 830,000 cases of pollution
  • Western brands among customers using app to monitor suppliers
Ma Jun
Ma JunPhotographer: Gilles Sabrie/Bloomberg

Ma Jun’s years as an environmental activist taught him one lesson: if you want factories to clean up their act, shaming them in front of Apple Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. works better than government fines.

Ma’s strategy -- backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. -- is to scrape real-time data off government websites that compile readings from effluent monitoring equipment at some 13,000 of the worst water polluters. The data is then aggregated on an app called Blue Map.