Apple sat down with environmental organisations in China to discuss the eco-friendliness (or lack thereof) of its suppliers, but refused to divulge any details about the companies involved, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Of the list of 27 suppliers targeted for releasing harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, Apple admitted to having business relations with 15 of them. It said that it had already launched audits for it suppliers and had completed reviewing 11 of the 15 named in the list.
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While some members of the environmental group praised Apple’s co-operation—like Ma Jun, the director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs in Beijing, who declared it “a major step forward”—others were not so enthusiastic. The director of EnviroFriends, Li Li, said, “Our ability to sit down together shows they have changed and actively want to move forward on this. But on specific things we are not satisfied and we haven’t reached a consensus.”
Despite the supplier responsibility report Apple releases on an annual basis, the company—famed for its secrecy—is not nearly as transparent about its operations in China as the environmental groups would like it to be. “Apple is trailing far behind in terms of transparency and pushing for the polluters to be held publicly accountable for their problems,” Ma Jun said.
Some members of the various groups expressed dissatisfaction about Apple’s refusal to disclose which of the suppliers the company had dealings with and the specific steps it was taking to address their concerns. Apple did say, however, that it would encourage more eco-friendly means of manufacturing printed circuit boards and take environmental concerns into account when awarding new supplier contracts.
Apple frequently topped Greenpeace’s list of the ‘least green’ companies before it started taking a more active and public interest in improving its environmental policies, making it an important selling point of its products as a result. The company proudly boasts of several of them meeting ENERGY STAR requirements and being rated EPEAT Gold, and was ranked as the fourth greenest company by Greenpeace last week.
However, its troubles in China continue, with its notebook casing supplier Catcher Technology having been forced to shut down a manufacturing plant in the country last month over environmental concerns and iPhone supplier Pegatron fined for spewing harmful gases during the manufacture of products. Not that it’s affecting the company’s sales in the country, which is Apple’s “fastest growing major region by far”, according to CEO Tim Cook.