Apple has been deemed the worst offender when it comes to flouting occupational safety regulations by a coalition of Chinese environmental groups.
Included in this coalition is Beijing-based environmental NGO, Institute of Environmental and Public Affairs, who released a damning 26-page report called “The Other Side of Apple” (in Chinese). The report apparently documents cases where Apple’s mainland suppliers violated environmental and health protections, reports PC Mag.
Following the accusations, Apple has decided to go into talks with the environmental groups.
Director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Ma Jun, praised the talks as a “step forward” but criticised Apple for refusing to identify its suppliers in China — a policy pressure groups say enables the electronics giant to evade scrutiny.
“This was the first time that they sat down with all five of us to discuss the report, so this was a step forward,” said Ma.
The damning report first emerged at the same time as Apple’s earnings report, which boasted an aggressive China strategy after launching retail stores, an e-store, and App Store in the country.
According to authors of the report, this strategy came at the expense of worker safety, “While Apple’s been busy updating their sales records, its employees have been enduring poisonous chemicals, with their rights and dignity being seriously trespassed on and the surrounding areas and environment being polluted by dirty water and emissions,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
“Despite this they consider that the pollution from these 15 companies is a commercial secret. So we don’t know the names of the 15 companies and we can’t verify the steps they are making to curb pollution.”
In the report, the environmental groups alleged that companies they believed to be supplying Apple were discharging toxic substances that were harming workers and local residents.
Apple, whose iPhones and iPads are hugely popular among China’s growing middle class, declined to comment on the meeting directly.
Apple has in the past confirmed that two Chinese factories, one owned by Taiwanese technology giant FoxConn and the other by WinTek, also a Taiwanese company, were making its products.
It acknowledged the FoxConn plant after a series of worker suicides there and has said that last year 137 workers at the WinTek plant suffered “adverse health effects” when exposed to a chemical substance called N-hexane, used to clean screens.
“We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made,” said company spokeswoman Carolyn Wu.