Apple Reports Progress on Supplier Responsibility, But Major Violations Doubled Last Year
Apple was recently accused of ignoring hazardous and unhealthy conditions at its overseas suppliers, so the company’s 2011 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report arrives at a particularly apt time.
Certainly it belies Apple’s rank of last in a list of 29 multinational technology companies in terms of responsiveness and transparency. Forty percent of the suppliers included in Apple’s report said this was the first time their facility had ever been reviewed for social responsibility compliance. Which is worth noting. Surely Apple isn’t the only consumer electronics company they’re working with. Hear that HP? Nokia?
Detailed in the report are the findings of 127 facilities audits, including core violations of Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct and Apple’s responses to them, which range from mandatory facility upgrades to the termination of business with violators (The company ended its relationship with 3 suppliers on 2010 for code violations). Sadly, Apple discovered 37 core violations in 2010, versus 17 the year before.
Also addressed, the sourcing of conflict-free “conflict minerals” like tantalum and tungsten, the n-hexane incident at Wintek and, of course, the suicides at Foxconn’s Shenzhen facility. Apple appears to have made significant headway on all three fronts, establishing a tantalum and tungsten smelter audit process, forcing Wintek to end its use of n-hexane and improve its ventilation systems and working with Foxconn to develop measures to prevent further suicides.
All good to hear, though obviously when an audit of 127 facilities turns up underage labor violations at nine facilities and hazardous chemicals at 80 more, there’s quite a bit more work to be done.