Apple has recently come under fire from Chinese environmental groups who are accusing the corporation of polluting their country with their poor environmental practices. In a 46-page report containing research compiled over the last seven months, five environmental groups have highlighted Apple’s unsustainable production techniques. The Chinese environmental groups have stated that communities and their surrounding environment have been negatively impacted by “suspected Apple suppliers.”
The report, titled “The Other Side of Apple II- Pollution Spreads Through Apple’s Supply Chain,” was posted on the website for China’s Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. The report holds that 27 supposed Apple suppliers are responsible for severe pollution in China. The report states that the corporation “greatly endangers the public’s health and safety.” Furthermore, the report has accused the company of taking advantage of loopholes regarding environmental laws in developing nations, allowing the company to turn large profits.
In accusing the corporation of irresponsible environmental performance, the report states, “a large number of IT supplier violation records have already been publicized; however, Apple chooses not to face such information and continues to use these companies as suppliers. This can only be seen as a deliberate refusal of responsibility.”
The findings of the report reveal that the company is responsible for widespread environmental degradation, which has subsequently caused health problems for citizens of China. The environmental grievances include extreme pollution of the Yangtze river, which has become so contaminated that the water is unable to be used for any purpose. The pollution, and other problems such as reported toxic wastes, have been allowed to occur due to improper handling of waste.
As a result of the pollution, the report notes that cancer rates have been on the rise; in one village of fifty people, nine new cases of cancer were recently reported. The report also states that in the city of Kunshan, located in eastern China, the air quality is so poor due to the presence of two electronic companies that villagers have been forced to send their children to schools outside of the city.
So far, Apple has declined to supply the information regarding who the suppliers are in China. Apple does not actually manufacture any of their products themselves, yet the company has been hesitant to ever reveal the names of suppliers.
The most recent report of Apple’s unsafe environmental practices is not the first instance of Apple being accused of having a negative impact on the environment. In February of this year, the company admitted that 137 employees in China had been poisoned in 2009 by a chemical that is used to clean iPhone screens. More recently, three employees were killed in May at a Foxconn factory in China where the iPad 2 was being produced.
In response to “The Other Side of Apple,” a spokesperson for the corporation has announced that “Apple is committed to driving the highest standards of social responsibility…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.”
China, a country that has routinely been criticized by environmentalists for its poor environmental track record, is nonetheless the production site of many American corporations. Because environmental regulations are less strict in China and other developing nations, large corporations have been able to manufacture products in an ecologically irresponsible way. In the wake of the newest revelations regarding Apple’s environmental track record, it is not yet clear whether the company will begin to take more responsibility for the havoc they are wreaking on the environment.
Photo Credit: dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/electronics/apple_logo.jpg