Apple has been praised by Chinese environmental activist Ma Jun for its “aggressive” adoption of progressive environmental policies in China. The Cupertino company, which initially refused to cooperate with the Beijing-based Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE), has gone further than any of its peers in the technology industry, Ma said.
“They have gone the furthest in motivating key suppliers,” said Ma, who is director of the IPE, at the Fortune Global Forum in China — before proclaiming Apple is “one of the most proactive IT suppliers.”
This marks a big change for Apple, which didn’t want to enter into a relationship with the IPE at first. In fact, of the 29 major Western corporations Ma contacted about cooperating with the IPE’s environmental work, Apple was the only one that did not respond.
“They said they had a long-term policy against” participating with such groups, Ma said. But after his group published two reports that criticized the iPhone maker, it soon changed its mind.
“They approached us,” Ma said. “They said, ‘We need transparency.'”
Ma is a former journalist who now devotes his time to environmental issues in China. His group collects pollution data on Chinese companies and then shares it with those in the Western world to help them better understand the affects their supply chain partners are having on the planet.
Interestingly, it appears the bulk of Apple’s work with the IPE began in 2012, after the death of company co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. It is believed that it is new CEO Tim Cook who is interested in making Apple a more environmentally friendly company — particularly in China.
Cook became the first Apple CEO to visit a Foxconn factory last year, and he’s been working to improve Apple’s impact there ever since. Although he hasn’t met Ma personally yet, Ma has held meeting with other high-level Apple executives.