Monday, 1 March 2010

Apple sends mixed environmental messages

Apple As foreseen in a post in January, Apple’s has rejected two resolutions at its shareholders’ meeting calling for the publication of a sustainability report and the creation of a Board Committee on Sustainability.  It seems even odder given that Al Gore was re-elected to the board at the same meeting, although there was some criticism of the appointment. 

Whilst the outcome may not have been ideal, quite a lot of the meeting was apparently spent addressing environmental issues, which sends a signal to other companies that the issues can’t be ignored.

Apple did, though, highlight its 2010 Supplier Responsibility report.  The report shows that in 2009 the company conducted audits at 102 facilities, including annual audits of all final assembly manufacturers, first-time audits of component and nonproduction suppliers and 15 repeat audits of facilities where a core violation had previously been discovered.  The audits check for compliance with Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which suppliers have to sign up to as a condition of their contracts.  The Code covers labour and human rights, health and safety, the environment, ethics, and management systems.

The 2009 audits identified 17 core violations: eight violations involving excessive recruitment fees; three cases where underage workers had been hired; three cases where suppliers contracted with noncertified vendors for hazardous waste disposal; and three cases of falsified records provided during the audit.

Overall, from 2007 to the end of 2009, Apple audited 190 facilities located in China, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. 

The 24-page Supplier Responsibility report is clearly a good thing and a commendable effort by Apple, but for me it highlights even more the company’s strange resistance to publishing a sustainability report.  I don’t think even Apple can hold out for much longer. 

© The Green IT Review

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