Technology giant Apple has reportedly been in dialogue with environmental groups in the wake of a scathing report published in late August.
The report, "The Other Side of Apple," charged that Chinese manufacturers in Apple's supply chain were violating myriad environmental regulations, and that Apple refused to address the issue. It was the second extensive report published by Chinese environmental groups this year that accused Apple suppliers of committing, and ignoring, offenses up and down its supply chain.
Published by the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) and numerous other NGOs, the reports levy a laundry list of complaints against Apple suppliers, from chemical poisoning of employees to emissions standards violations. The first report even links an Apple to 12 suicides at one of its supplier factories, "Foxconn" in Shenzhen.
Apple's recent engagement with environmental groups is noteworthy because the reports' authors had made multiple references to Apple's unwillingness to cooperate. In January, for instance, Ma Jun, one of the chief authors of the report, told chinadialgoue.net, "The company (Apple) has essentially failed to respond to the situation. It has been some months since our initial investigation and Apple has remained almost completely silent."
This grievance was again reiterated in the August report: "Even when faced with specific allegations regarding its suppliers, the company refuses to provide answers and continues to state that 'it is our long-term policy not to disclose supplier information.'"
Complaints about Apple's supply-chain pollution come amid a surge in Apple's presence in China. In July, the California-based company announced that revenue in Greater China - which generally refers to mainland China as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong - was $8.8 billion for the first three quarters of the fiscal year. In the third quarter alone, revenue was $3.8 billion - a six-fold increase from a year ago.
Apple is far from the only foreign electronics company to run afoul of Chinese environmental groups, but it has, according to environmentalists, been one of the slowest to react. Ma told chinadialogue.net that Nokia, Panasonic, Vodaphone, Philips and others have all made progress in enforcing environmental standards. And he hopes that recent communication with Apple is a step in that direction.
Clean Error is an Earth Times blog that looks at China's position as both the world's biggest polluter and fastest-growing manufacturer of green technology. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Follow David @davidvranicar. Top Image Credit: © pixelman