Apple Suppliers Accused Of Poisoning China And Other Developing Countries

Apple Suppliers Accused Of Poisoning China And Other Developing Countries

Smog over Beijing (Photo by kevindooley - http://flic.kr/p/A8nn7)

Chinese environmental activists are threatening to tarnish Apple’s image unless the tech giant reduces the amount of pollution coming from suppliers in this populous country. Five non-governmental organizations Wednesday released a report charging Apple uses suppliers which take “advantage of the loopholes in developing countries’ environmental management systems.”

The report claims in the eastern city of Kunshan an increase in cancer rates was detected and Chinese children were sent to distant schools due to air pollution from two factories linked to Apple: Unimicron Electronics and Kaedar Electronics (Kunshan). Pegatron, the parent firm of Kaedar, reportedly builds iPads for Apple.

Although China’s government has been slow to react to environmental concerns, a movement is underway to change its stance. In July, a protest in Dalian drew 12,000 participants, according to the Financial Times.

Just hours before today’s report was to be published, Apple invited the co-author, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs Director Ma Jun to speak about his charges. In a public response, Apple spokewoman Carolyn Wu said the company is “committed to driving the highest standards in social responsibility throughout or supply base.

This isn’t the first environmental image problem Apple has faced this year. In May, an explosion at main supplier Foxconn killed three workers, injuring dozens more. In early 2011, Apple announced 137 workers in 2009 were poisoned by chemicals used to clean iPhone screens at the Wintek factory in Suzhou.

In 2010, an Apple audit of its suppliers found 80 plants improperly stored or handled hazardous chemicals. The tech giant required the companies to make corrections.

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  • Aaron Pries Pries

    Yeah… Because China tooootally has a clean track record when it comes to being pollution free.

  • wnyang

    Why does that matter? I think Apple can do a lot of good here considering how they love to play up the green aspect of their products.  If Apple can help take the lead in cleaning up the process up the entire supply chain vertical, people will love them even more.  It probably doesn’t even cost that much to up the standards in the scheme of things.

  • Casanova

    that’s like saying, “i naturally suck at hockey, might as well quit. why bother?” re-read the article son. as stated, a movement is underway to address pollution concerns.

  • Chris

    the problem is, Apple doesn’t need to do that in order to sell their products

  • CharliK

    Charges aren’t confirmation. Neither are reports. According to reports, Apple claims they don’t use any of the companies in the reports. 

    then there was the lack of proof that the factory that exploded was actually an Apple factory. Lack of proof that Apple wasn’t told that the Wintek factory was using the proper chemicals only to find out they were not, and were fired etc. 

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About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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