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.