With investigations into the conditions of the labourers that build its products underway already, Apple now looks to have turned its attention to addressing the environmental issues within its supply chain in China.
Ma Jun, who is the founder of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, told USA Today that the firm has commissioned independent environmental reviews of at least two of its partner’s factories in China, which will be entirely separate to ongoing probes carried out by the Fair Labor Association (FLA).
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The reviews, which are said to have been agreed to last month, could begin as early as March and will focus on assessing the environmental impact of facilities that belong to Foxconn and one other unnamed firm. However, it is thought that the investigation may be expanded to cover more of its partners’ factories.
The move is a direct result of a meeting that took place between Apple and its suppliers in China last year, following a series of environmental issues that took were found at a number of plants. Notebook casing supplier Catcher Technology was forced to close one facility over environmental concerns, while iPhone supplier Pegatron was fined for spewing harmful gases during the manufacture of products.
Another activist, Linda Greer, of the National Resources Defense Council’s health program, revealed that Apple would grant the investigators access to the factories, in order that they can focus on specific issues, which include concerns that toxic waste is being discharged into the water supply and soil.
Apple seems to be treating the situation with the serious approach it warrants, as Ma revealed that his organisation has held a number of meetings and phone calls with Apple executives since the September meet-up.
News of the upcoming investigation comes as the FLA has beguns revealing its feedback from its investigation. Initial comments were positive, according to the non-profit that investigates working conditions for laborers around the world, which said that the conditions are above average. However, it has since changed its stance and said that there are “a tonne of issues” to be fixed there.
Apple increased the number of audits of its troublesome Asian supply chain to 229 last year, that’s 80 percent more than it ran in 2009, and the company is making efforts to bring its workings in China up to the required standard.
CEO Tim Cook has been under increased pressure about its workings in China following two New York Times articles, How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work and In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad, both of which paint a grim picture of the lives of workers that build the company’s products.
We’ve contacted Apple for clarification and will update the article with any response we are given.