Share & Connect
Five Chinese non-governmental organizations have accused Apple of adding to environmental degradation by using suppliers with known histories of environmental violations. The American company also faces strong criticisms for undermining social responsibility as its suppliers have been involved in serious work-related accidents and deaths.
A report released on Wednesday, which calls Apple out for taking “advantage of the loopholes in developing countries’ environmental management systems,” is threatening to cast a big shadow on Apple’s image.
One of the co-authors of the report Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, has been outspoken in several media outlets about Apple’s apparent disregard and unresponsiveness. The coalition of environmental groups has requested the help of businesses to map the companies’ impact on local communities;
Apple shied away from contributing to the report. Several electronics brands, including Samsung, Nokia and LG outsource all or part of their manufacturing. These orders are then picked up by suppliers with factories in, among other countries, China.
According to the New York Times, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling responded on Wednesday that the company had been aggressively monitoring its supply chain regularly.
“We require that our supplier provides safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made,” Dowling said.
But at the same time, Apple has, according to GOOD magazine, defended its ranking in the environmental groups report as a result of their suppliers’ actions — not theirs. CNN reported that the Apple company found 80 facilities where storage and handling of hazardous chemicals was not done properly during the 2010 audit.
According to Apple’s own report, the company had requested the non-compliant facilities to correct their mistakes and document these processes but nowhere does it say if the request was granted.
Apple’s market share in China has grown exponentially and the busiest Apple store in the world is located there. Yet their presence in the mainland has caused controversy. Despite keeping their suppliers under wraps, the company has faced multiple production challenges.
The New York Times reports that one of Apple’s biggest suppliers was hit by a suicide wave among workers at several mainland facilities last year while an explosion at fire at another plant in southwest China in May killed two and injured more than a dozen.
Apple is not the only company to face harsh criticism for taking advantage of the Chinese system — several multinational corporations have, according to the New York Times, been accused of employing child labour, violating local labor laws and polluting water resources and land.