Apple Ranks Last for Environmental Response

by | Jan 24, 2011

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A coalition of 36 environmental groups has accused Apple of ignoring unhealthy conditions at the Chinese factories of its suppliers.

A report (Chinese only) by the Beijing-based non-profit Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) ranked Apple last among 29 tech companies for their responsiveness to health and environmental concerns in China.

The report says that Apple ignored concerns at Wintek, the touch-screen factory where plant workers became ill from n-hexane exposure, and the IPE said Apple has not acknowledged Wintek as a supplier. Wintek eventually removed the substance after being sued by workers, Cnet said.

IPE Director Ma Jun told Bloomberg News that Apple refused to confirm who its suppliers were, and avoided responsibility for environmental problems in its supply chain.

The report also criticised Apple’s response to worker suicides at the Foxconn plant last year. Earlier this month a 25-year-old Foxconn employee became at least the 14th suicide victim at the manufacturer since last year, the AFP reported.

“[Apple] only care about the price and quality [of their products] and not the environmental and social responsibility issues. In some ways they drive the suppliers to cut corners to win their contracts,” Ma told Reuters.

But Apple told Reuters that it has a rigorous auditing regime, and all suppliers are regularly monitored.

“Our supplier responsibility reports document the progress of our extensive auditing programme since 2006,” an Apple spokeswoman said.

In the IPE report, British Telecom, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Sanyo and Sony were the five top tech companies for environmental responsiveness.

Apple recently fell from fifth to ninth in the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, and Greenpeace recently noted that the company refused to participate in its Green Electronics Survey.

But Greenpeace said that Apple has managed to phase out polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in its new MacBook Pro.

Image: Courtesy of Apple.

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