In January, a group of Chinese environmental NGOs including Friends of Nature and IPE ranked Apple last out of 29 tech companies in terms of environmental transparency. While the company’s own audits have revealed a number of problems such as suppliers’ employment of underage workers, its opacity makes independent verification impossible. When the 2011 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report was released in February, furthermore, it paid relatively little attention to environmental issues.
Consequently, the group chose to focus exclusively on Apple in its follow-up report (PDF), published today. The report attempts to penetrate the secrecy surrounding Apple’s suppliers, identifying them and monitoring their environmental impact. From chinadialogue:
Meiko Electronics of Wuhan, central China, is a printed circuit board manufacturing subsidiary of Japanese firm Meiko Electronics. Its major customers include Apple, Motorola and Siemens. In April 2011, staff from IPE and Friends of Nature’s Wuhan branch went to investigate pollution at the plant. They found a 150-metre ditch running from the east side of the facility to Nantaizi Lake, filled with a milky-white liquid. For dozens of metres the water of Nantaizi was a grey-white colour, covered with white foam and dark floating objects. This polluted water flows directly into the Yangtze River.
In June, lawyer Zeng Xiangbin from Friends of Nature’s Wuhan branch and the Pony Testing Company tested a sample of the liquid from the ditch. Chemical oxygen demand (also known as CODcr load) was 192 milligrams per litre: 4.8 times the Category V Environmental Surface Water Quality Standard of 40 milligrams per litre – the worst category of water quality – indicating the water was unsafe for use for any purpose. Responding to the investigation, Nantaizi Lake fish farmer Wan Zhengyou said: “My generation is drinking polluted water; the next will have only poisoned water to drink.”
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