A lot has been published about the labor issues that Apple has faced over the past two years, but much less about the environmental problems in the company’s supply chain. That is certainly not because the IT industry has a paltry impact on the environment.
To the contrary, IT manufacturing relies on a number of toxic metals and solvents and has a huge environmental impact that is quite apparent across China. NRDC and a Chinese NGO named the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) have actively worked with Apple over the past year to recommend an improved environmental oversight program.
IPE released its latest report in Beijing this week on environmental pollution from the IT industry, focusing heavily on Apple’s transition to a much stronger player in supplier environmental oversight. (Here is IPE's press release, and here is the report).
In addition to an updated report card on the environmental performance of various IT brands, the report describes in detail the pollution problems at three Apple suppliers and the corrective actions that have been required. This information comes from path-breaking verification audits that IPE and its NGO coalition at the Green Choice Alliance have undertaken at these sites at Apple’s invitation. The IPE report gives a much better flavor of what is going on in the supply chain of this industry than we can glean from the recent Apple Supplier Responsibility Report or other sources.
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