Apple needs a lot of tin to make its assortment of gadgets, but tin can be a very environmentally unfriendly business. It can destroy tropical forests and coral reefs, and it can bankrupt the people who depend on tropical forests and coral reefs for their livelihood. No tropical forests? No trees. No coral reefs? No fish.
Much of the tin-mining in the world is done on Bangka Island in Indonesia. Unfortunately, only some of the tin mining done there is regulated, meaning they watch out for the environmental impact. Recently, there’s been a lot of concern that Apple might actually be buying up tin from unregulated mines, taking part in the environmental destruction of the locale. That’s why Apple’s launching an investigation on the matter.
In response to Friends of the Earth collecting 24,000 signatures asking for Apple to publicly state whether it uses tin from the area, Apple’s supplier responsibility page has been updated with word of the investigation:
Bangka Island, Indonesia, is one of the world’s principal tin-producing regions. Recent concerns about the illegal mining of tin from this region prompted Apple to lead a fact-finding visit to learn more. Using the information we’ve gathered, Apple initiated an EICC working group focused on this issue, and we are helping to fund a new study on mining in the region so we can better understand the situation.
Apple has 249 suppliers using tin in components that end up going into their products, so if it seems weird Apple needs to investigate this, it shouldn’t: Apple’s not centrally buying the tin used in all of its products, it’s coming to them in components that have already been made by third-party suppliers. So to figure this out, Apple has to figure out where every one of these 249 suppliers is getting their tin from. But at least Apple’s aware of the issue, and trying to do something about it.