Ironically, given that these aspirational codes are dedicated to helping both workers and the environment, there has been much criticism by all parties during their recent proliferation . Activists are often unhappy because these codes remain largely unenforceable and can be used as greenwash by corporations (there are many examples of this). It can also be argued that these codes are offering a public relations alternative to the more serious and meaningful standards and reporting frameworks that have recently emerged.
More to the point, these aspirational codes of conduct, though a valuable first step in creating an ethical supply chain, are by their nature elastic and voluntary, and are now seen by advanced companies only as a first step in establishing a broader ethical supply chain framework. These high-level codes are therefore usually more a reflection of good intentions than of any commitment to specific actions, but they do provide sensible guidelines for developing principles in areas such as environmental policy, child labor, decent wage policies, and freedom of association that reflect a concern for workers in the extended supply chain, and at least a partial acceptance of responsibility by companies to oversee good behavior by their subcontractors and suppliers in the developing world.