While investigations into the working conditions in its Chinese factories still underway, Apple has now commissioned an independent environmental group to review its supply chain and identify any environmental concerns. The reviews are set to begin next month, and will focus on the environmental impact of factories belonging to Foxconn and one other unnamed supplier.
Ma Jun, the founder of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, confirmed to USA Today that it would be investigating at least two of Apple’s partner factories in China, though the reviews would be entirely separate to those currently being carried out by the Fair Labour Association (FLA).
The reviews will each last one month and are expected to begin in March. They follows a meeting Apple had with Chinese suppliers last year in which it identified a number of environmental concerns at several plants. The Next Web notes that Catcher Technology, which supplies notebook casings, had to close one facility over environmental issues; while iPhone supplier Pegatron was fined for leaking harmful gases during the manufacturing process.
The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs has held a number of meetings with Apple since its visit to China, according to Ma, and the Cupertino company is said to be taking the issue very seriously. Linda Greer, who heads the National Resources Defense Council’s health program, said the investigators will focus on specific issues, one of which is that toxic waste is being discharged into the water supply and soil.
Apple has been working to straighten up its Chinese partners in recent months, following allegations that the factory workers assembling its devices are mistreated. It recently asked the FLA to conduct an investigation into the claims, and the non-profit organization has begun revealing its findings. Its initial comments were relatively positive, but it then stated that there were a “ton of issues” that need to be addressed.