Apple suppliers under fire for pollution in China
Apple does not disclose its suppliers in China, but the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) said complaints about pollution by factories it believed were making the company’s products often went ignored.
“The large volume of discharge in Apple’s supply chain greatly endangers the public’s health and safety,” said the report released Wednesday by the IPE and several other Chinese environmental campaign groups.
The IPE is run by Ma Jun, a former investigative journalist turned environmental campaigner who was named by Time magazine in 2006 as one of the world’s most influential people.
“Through the process of our investigations, we discovered several suspected suppliers to Apple that have been the target of numerous complaints from local communities,” the report added.
“Through five months of research and field investigations we have found that the pollution discharge from this $300 billion dollar company has been expanding and spreading throughout its supply chain.”
In one case, it said the pollution from a factory owned by the Taiwanese IT giant Foxconn in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi was so bad that people living nearby sometimes could not open their windows.
An Apple spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse that the company was looking closely at the allegations and had carried out audits of practices at 97 factories around the world last year.
“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,” Carolyn Wu told AFP.
Apple would not say how many of of the 2010 audits were conducted in China.
Apple products are hugely popular among China’s growing middle classes and the company’s four stores in the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai are its most profitable in the world.
The China Daily newspaper reported that Apple had contacted the IPE to ask for direct talks with the group, an unusual move for the computer giant and an indication of how damaging the allegations could be.
Among those accused by the report are the Suzhou factory of Win Technology, which Apple has confirmed is a manufacturer of its iPhone4 touch screen.
Apple has already said that in 2010, some workers at the plant were poisoned by a chemical substance called N-hexane, which was used to clean iPhone screens.
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