January 20, 2011

Chinese Environmental Report Condemns Apple

Apple has come under fire from environmental groups in China, who accuse the California-based tech giant of ignoring health and safety concerns at factories in the Asian country.

Three dozen Chinese environmental organizations combined to publish a report, entitled "The Other Side of Apple", on Thursday. They ranked the iPhone and iPad manufacturer dead last in a survey of 29 multinational tech corporations in terms of response to questions regarding pollution and workplace health hazards in their Chinese supply chain, according to AFP's Joan Feng.

According to AP Reporter Cara Anna, the organizations claim that Apple did not respond to "repeated requests for information" regarding potential environmental or worker safety issues at their suppliers.

Several workers at Foxconn Technology Group, a company which supplies components for iPhones, killed themselves in southern China in 2009, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday. Furthermore, according to Anna, dozens of workers at a plant that supplies touch screens to Apple and other firms have fallen ill due to chemicals used in the process.

"On Apple's supply chain, some workers were poisoned and disabled, neighborhoods and communities were polluted while there were severe infringement of workers' rights, interest and dignity," the report, which was published on the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) website, said, according to Feng.

"We've found that Apple isn't honoring its commitment in ensuring its supply chain's work safety and environmental responsibility and giving dignity and respect to the workers," added IPE representative Ma Jun. "(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,"

Carolyn Wu, an Apple spokeswoman, said that the company was "committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility" in China, but would not comment directly on Thursday's report.

According to the AP, British Telecommunications, Compaq Computer and Samsung Electronics Co. were ranked as the most responsive companies to health and environmental safety issues, while AFP also says the organizations commended Hewlett-Packard, Alcatel-Lucent, Vodafone, Toshiba, Sharp and Hitachi "for taking some steps to change poor practices or step up supervision of manufacturing."

Along with Apple, Feng said that the report cited Nokia, LG, SingTel, Sony and Ericsson was companies that failed to respond to concerns or act when problems arose.


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