Apple Auditing Supply Plants for Pollution

Apple has admitted to pollution from more than half a dozen links in its Chinese supply chain during promised meetings with the organisations behind a damning report into the company’s environmental impact. From Caixin online (Now apparently offline. See update below):

According to Chinese media reports, Apple pledged to improve its environmental standards for suppliers during the meeting, and acknowledged that some of its supply firms have excessive emissions and have failed to keep track of their wastewater pollution. Apple officials also said they would take environmental contamination more into consideration in the future when selecting new suppliers ….

Five Chinese environmental NGOs attended the meeting, including the EnviroFriends Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Friends of Nature and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. Some, like IPEA director Ma Jun, interpreted the meeting as a positive development, while others said there was much more progress to be made.

“In the term of information transparency, Apple still has not done enough,” said Friends of Nature Secretary-General Li Bo to Caixin, following the meeting.

From The Wall Street Journal:

“This a major step forward,” Mr. Ma said. “They asked these companies to take corrective plans and give a timeline, and Apple will verify whether all these issues have been resolved ….”

Mr. Ma still urged greater transparency from Apple, saying the company didn’t name the suppliers it is scrutinizing. He also called for the polluting suppliers to disclose what measures they plan to address the advocacy groups’ concerns.

“Apple is trailing far behind in terms of transparency and pushing for the polluters to be held publicly accountable for their problems,” he said ….

Ma said Tuesday’s meeting was one of several he has had with Apple since the Chinese groups issued their report, including one meeting at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., with a senior executive and other Apple officials whom he declined to name.

Scrutiny of the firm’s environmental record has also reached China’s state media, with CCTV airing a 40-minute report on two major Apple suppliers last month. One of them, Taiwanese notebook casing manufacturer Catcher, faced partial closure of a Suzhou factory after local residents complained of a strange odour.

Update: On Twitter, Rob Schmitz of American Public Media’s Marketplace has questioned the accuracy of the Caixin report, which now appears to have been removed.

Yesterday’s Caixin article on Apple (http://bit.ly/sy1NNz) is, according to at least one person who attended the mtg, full of errors. 

Envirofriends’ 李力 [Li Li] told me Apple did -not- admit to violating any pollution laws. The only thing it admitted was having 15 suppliers in China