Apple criticised for environmental record

Ben Camm-Jones
22 January, 2011
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Environmental groups in China have criticized Apple for a lack of regard for its Chinese suppliers, blaming the Cupertino company for poor environmental and work safety standards.

Reuters reported this week that the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) published a critical report on the Apple supply chain, accusing the company of only caring about the “price and quality” of its products.

“We’ve found that Apple isn’t honouring its commitment in ensuring its supply chain’s work safety and environmental responsibility and giving dignity and respect to the workers,” Ma Jun of IPE told Reuters.

“In some ways they drive the suppliers to cut corners to win their contracts.”

In response, Apple said that its own supplier responsibility reports “document the progress of our extensive auditing program since 2006.”

A spate of suicides at Foxconn’s campus in Shenzhen last year were blamed on working conditions but Apple strongly denied this. Foxconn is a manufacturer that assembles many Apple products in addition to offerings from other consumer electronics companies.

The use of N-hexane—a toxic substance banned in many countries—at a plant in Suzhou caused controversy in January 2010, and IPE claimed that at least 47 workers in the factory, which makes LCD screens, fell ill.

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