Apple recently met with five Chinese environmental protection groups to address concerns over domestic supplier pollution after reports had criticized the company for using loopholes in the system. The reports brought to light problems of pollution and poisoning in Apple’s supply chain in China. It took two reports for Apple to respond to all queries regarding their supply chain environmental violations. Months of research and field investigations showed that the pollution discharge has been expanding and spreading throughout Apple's supply chain, and has been seriously encroaching on local communities and their surrounding environments.
The meeting, which lasted three and a half hours and took place in Apple’s Beijing offices, was attended by nine representatives for five different domestic environmental groups, and five Apple team representatives. Li Li who attended the meeting as director of EnviroFriends, said she was pleased that Apple made time for the meeting, but she also noted that the company continues to put the burden of responsibility for pollution on its suppliers. Li also felt Apple's attitude wasn't sincere. Li said that Apple admitted during the meeting that 15 out of the 27 suppliers accused of excessive pollution were suppliers for the company. However, it declined to state which ones were correct. She added that Apple could take much stronger steps. "Our ability to sit down together shows they have changed and actively want to move forward on this," said Ms. Li, director of EnviroFriends. "But on specific things we are not satisfied and we haven't reached a consensus."
The company did, however, commit to improving communication with non-governmental organizations in the future and agreed to consider environmental issues in the evaluation process for choosing suppliers.
Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) co-author of the reports and well-know green activist also attended the meeting. Apple's efforts are "a major step forward", said Mr Ma. "They asked these companies to take corrective plans and give a timeline, and Apple will verify whether all these issues have been resolved."
Apple declined to comment on the meeting, but did provide a generic statement to The Wall Street Journal. "Apple is committed to driving the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply chain. We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made," said spokeswoman Carolyn Wu.
Reports by environmental NGOs on Apple:
Click here for 'The other side of Apple II', by Friends of Nature, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle, Envirofriends, and the Green Stone Environmental Action Network - August 2011.
Click here for 'The other side of Apple', by Friends of Nature, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) and Green Beagle - January 2011,
Reports on IT industry in China:
Click here for the 'Investigative Report on I.T. Industry Heavy Metals Pollution (Phase III). Green Choice Consumers Urge the I.T. Brands to Break their Silence', by Friends of Nature, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle - 2010-8-11.
Click here for the '2010 Study of Heavy Metal Pollution by IT Brand Supply Chain (Phase II). 29 IT Brands’ Responses and Consumers’ Green Choice', by Friends of Nature Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle - June 2010.
Click here for 'The IT Industry Has a Critical Duty to Prevent Heavy Metal Pollution. Study of Heavy Metal Pollution by IT Brand Supply Chain', by Friends of Nature, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle - April 2010.