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Chinese environmental groups take issue with Apple over pollution

post #1 of 66
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A new report from China has accused Apple of being unresponsive to concerns over pollution, as well as taking advantage of lax environmental protection rules in developing countries to manufacture its products.

Five Chinese non-governmental organizations released a report on Wednesday accusing Apple of taking "advantage of loopholes in developing countries' environmental management systems," according to the Financial Times.

Apple is said to have relented to the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a co-author of the report, only hours before the document was publicized, in a move characterized as "highly unusual" for the iPhone maker. Apple reportedly invited Ma Jun, director of the institute, to start a dialogue on the allegations.

The five groups behind the report have swayed 29 electronics companies to work with them on containing pollution in their overseas supply chain. But the institute has singled out Apple as being unresponsive.

Apple's decision to talk with the institute also reportedly came with a claim that some of the factories included on Ma's list where not suppliers for Apple products. Ma said Apple gave him no further details, however.

"Although Apple does not directly manufacture anything itself and does not disclose, with very few exceptions, the names of its suppliers, the Chinese environmental groups say they used public information and court documents to form a list of more than 20 Apple suppliers with environmental violations to their name," the Times report said. "These suppliers also work for other companies."

The same consortium accused Apple in January of ignoring health concerns and failing to properly oversee its suppliers. Three-dozen environmental groups from China published that prior report, entitled "The Other Side of Apple," which ranked the Cupertino, Calif., company as the least responsive among more than 25 technology companies surveyed for details on working conditions.



Concerns over Apple's overseas supply chain are not new. This May, an explosion at a Foxconn-run iPad 2 polishing plant killed three people and injured another 15.

Foxconn's assembly factories in China have been the subject of perhaps the most criticism of Apple's supply chain. The iPhone maker was even forced to make a public statement last year after a number of suicides occurred at the main Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China.

Last year, another incident with supplier Wintek led to bad press for Apple, after dozens of workers filed a lawsuit claiming they were poisoned by the chemical n-hexane while cleaning glass iPhone screens. The workers alleged that a Wintek factory manager in China forced them to use n-hexane instead of alcohol because the chemical dries faster and leaves fewer streaks on glass.

Apple conducts an annual audit of its overseas partners and their factories. This year, that audit found one facility in the Far East that employed 42 underage workers, prompting Apple to terminate business with the facility.
post #2 of 66
Yes, I'm sure Apple is the cause of Chinese pollution. Bring the jobs back to the US!
post #3 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronHeadSlim View Post

Yes, I'm sure Apple is the cause of Chinese pollution. Bring the jobs back to the US!

Uhm... you do know that Apple used to manufacture all around the world, right? I believe my first Mac was made in Cork, Ireland.
post #4 of 66
Is China sure the pollution is NOT coming friom all rthose FAKE Apple Stores pushing all those PIRATED software and hardware?

Maybe China's EPA needs to investigate there first!
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post #5 of 66
I didn't mean those particular jobs but jobs in general. Sorry for the confusion.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

Uhm... you do know that Apple used to manufacture all around the world, right? I believe my first Mac was made in Cork, Ireland.
post #6 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

Uhm... you do know that Apple used to manufacture all around the world, right? I believe my first Mac was made in Cork, Ireland.

Um, you do know that Apple computers haven't been manufactured anywhere outside of Asia in 20 years right?

On topic.....China has environmental groups???
post #7 of 66
This is funny coming from the #1 polluting country. Blame other for their lack of vision and responsibility.... Haven't heard anything on the news that they are changing laws regarding the hundred of chemical plants polluting or for strict laws on car emissions which by the way has every car company in the world making cars plus their own brands.
I admire China cause I think they have opened themselves for better things in business, infrastructure, education but they still lack some core values....
post #8 of 66
Pot, meet kettle.
post #9 of 66
Oh good another environment group that hopes to use apple as a publicity bandwagon, by specifically accusing apple of things every company does. I think its good we have organisations that highlight issues like this, but dont just highlight one company when the practice is widespread.
post #10 of 66
What I got from this article is that they really take issue with Foxconn, but it's more sensational to just blame Apple.
post #11 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by raymccrae View Post

Oh good another environment group that hopes to use apple as a publicity bandwagon, by specifically accusing apple of things every company does. I think its good we have organisations that highlight issues like this, but dont just highlight one company when the practice is widespread.

I 100% agree with you, it's just that it's human nature to have a scapegoat. Just like when the Patriots were caught illegally videotaping opponents when it was/is widespread in the NFL, or Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens being the poster boys for steroids in baseball when everyone was taking them. Or how Bush was labelled an idiot when his advisors and staff probably convinced him that things were worse than they were. It's never any one person or company's fault, but someone has to be the whipping boy. It's just how things work.
post #12 of 66
[QUOTE

On topic.....China has environmental groups???[/QUOTE]

post #13 of 66
Just got back from shanghai this morning, factories surely do produce majority of the Pollution, however just on the streets from what I saw, there is pollution everywhere from vehicles, people smoking, trash. From what I can tell their EPA laws are lax.
Just before expo 2010, they stopped factory work for a few months and minimized automobile traffic, cleared up the skies a lot. But it's not like that anymore
Gov needs to enforce regulations on factories to start off but good luck trying in a developing nation that is growing.
post #14 of 66
Funny, with all the sarcasm, no one seems to think that US has outsourced a significant amount of pollution to China and many other developing countries.
post #15 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by btonedem View Post

Funny, with all the sarcasm, no one seems to think that US has outsourced a significant amount of pollution to China and many other developing countries.

USA is perfect.

/s

seriously though something needs to be done period. outsourcing is killing the USA and undeveloped nations. jobs are low, profits are high, and we live in an unsustainable bubble.

granted this screams pr stunt but there is a fundamental truth beneath this bs.
post #16 of 66
The original report mentioned "29 big electronic brands", which would seem to imply Apple stood out from the other "brands" as being particularly unresponsive. That Apple has influence over the factories that produce the brand's products goes without saying. If Apple pressured the factories producing their goods to be more environmentally-friendly I can't see that as a bad thing. But with pollution controls come added costs. Certainly possible that the drive for profits overrides concerns over pollutants in a foreign country. It's not as tho that would be the first time that's happened.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/e7cad0f4-d...0144feab49a.ht

Personally I think the Chinese should be applauded for making some effort at mitigating the damage being done to their country while producing the products westerners can't seem to get enough of, as long as the price is right.

Any efforts at protecting the health of it's citizens should be encouraged. If Apple can help apply pressure in that regard IMO it's the very least they can do.
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post #17 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronHeadSlim View Post

Yes, I'm sure Apple is the cause of Chinese pollution. Bring the jobs back to the US!

I know I exaggerate a bit - but my first thought was, "Love it." Years ago companies started to manufacture in places where the cost-of-manufacture was lower than in the U.S. There is a certain threshold that when reached, companies start looking at pulling back. Has China reached that point - were manufacturing cost is, let's say, to pick a number, 70 percent of the cost in the U.S.?
If not, they are closing the gap really fast. Foxconn recognizes that danger. It is thinking of adding its of robots to their lines. Is a Chinese robot really that much cheaper than one that "works" in the US? What if Apple would quietly install robies in their old set of manufacturing buildings in Sacramento, CA. I give them (the Chinese) five more years to have a run with it. After that who knows. Can't wait to see on the label "Designed by Apple in California, assembled in California."
post #18 of 66
If china was held to the same standards as the US on this stuff, maybe it wouldn't be quite so attractive for outsourcing The only reason the US ever sent stuff over there was for cost...and not worrying about pollution is a cost cutting measure.
post #19 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post

If china was held to the same standards as the US on this stuff, maybe it wouldn't be quite so attractive for outsourcing The only reason the US ever sent stuff over there was for cost...and not worrying about pollution is a cost cutting measure.

which brings back the point: how can people so vigorously defend and support corporations which do not give a damn about people other than as a means to increase profit one way or another.
post #20 of 66
This pot calling the kettle black. It's a fact that local industry in China does far more pollution than Apple or any other industry that is set up in China would. It wasn't so long ago when there was pond (or a lake I forget) of methane in China that was causing some serious pollution to the environment. Why does China care about pollution its not as if they care about human rights or freedom of their citizens (lets not pretend that China has any human approach towards its citizens).
post #21 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by pondosinatra View Post


On topic.....China has environmental groups???

Yes that was my first thought ... and Apple is considered a priority? I hope this isn't the first move in a Chinese anti-Apple move to followed by legalized clones.
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post #22 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post

If china was held to the same standards as the US on this stuff, maybe it wouldn't be quite so attractive for outsourcing The only reason the US ever sent stuff over there was for cost...and not worrying about pollution is a cost cutting measure.

Apple and many others US companies manufactured in Ireland not so long ago because of very attractive tax levels for foreign companies to set up there at the time. Ireland has all the same standards as the US otherwise, so for Apple IMO it's not about low standards, just costs.
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post #23 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robre View Post

I know I exaggerate a bit - but my first thought was, "Love it." Years ago companies started to manufacture in places where the cost-of-manufacture was lower than in the U.S. There is a certain threshold that when reached, companies start looking at pulling back. Has China reached that point - were manufacturing cost is, let's say, to pick a number, 70 percent of the cost in the U.S.?
If not, they are closing the gap really fast. Foxconn recognizes that danger. It is thinking of adding its of robots to their lines. Is a Chinese robot really that much cheaper than one that "works" in the US? What if Apple would quietly install robies in their old set of manufacturing buildings in Sacramento, CA. I give them (the Chinese) five more years to have a run with it. After that who knows. Can't wait to see on the label "Designed by Apple in California, assembled in California."

You forgot to add at the very end ... 'By Americans.' Let us not forget all the US companies who thrive on immigrant labor in CA, legal and illegal.
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post #24 of 66
"Apple found guilty of sacrificing babies and clubbing seals to improve their products"

AI commenter: Those babies probably deserved it!



Apple's made a HUGE deal about how much they care for the environment with the US and international press. They also include an Environmental Status report in the product page of all of their devices (good marketing there).

The problem (and it's NOT just a problem with apple) is that a lot of these certifications are around the final product only, and don't take things like Manufacturing or Shipping into account. And why should they? The average consumer only cares about the "feel good" aspects of environmentalism and that it won't poison a well when they throw it away.

Maybe there is more to this story. There often is.

But this organisation already got over two dozen other major companies to play ball, which leads me to believe that their demands aren't excessive when it comes to profitability. Few companies in the world can claim the profit margins on products like Apple can, and if these lower-margin companies can align with the new plan, it should be cake for apple.

But none of that matters. All most of you will see is "OMG Someone's attacking Apple!"
post #25 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Yes that was my first thought ... and Apple is considered a priority? I hope this isn't the first move in a Chinese anti-Apple move to followed by legalized clones.

29 other companies signed before Apple. How does that make Apple a priority?
post #26 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robre View Post

I know I exaggerate a bit - but my first thought was, "Love it." Years ago companies started to manufacture in places where the cost-of-manufacture was lower than in the U.S. There is a certain threshold that when reached, companies start looking at pulling back. Has China reached that point - were manufacturing cost is, let's say, to pick a number, 70 percent of the cost in the U.S.?
If not, they are closing the gap really fast. Foxconn recognizes that danger. It is thinking of adding its of robots to their lines. Is a Chinese robot really that much cheaper than one that "works" in the US? What if Apple would quietly install robies in their old set of manufacturing buildings in Sacramento, CA. I give them (the Chinese) five more years to have a run with it. After that who knows. Can't wait to see on the label "Designed by Apple in California, assembled in California."

Actually, a chinese robot facility would be cheaper in china, as long as China maintains lax zoning and pollution laws.

The real expense to making things in the US is the Red Tape. Labor is more expensive, yes. But it's the laws, taxes, and limitations that currently make it unprofitable.
post #27 of 66
Interesting that this comes shortly after the release of the US embassy documents describing how hard it was for Apple to gain government assistance in China against counterfeiters. Remember that no group remains operational in China without the government's consent - certainly no "environmental group" or groups. They are just alternative spokes-groups for the government to keep Apple off-balance and amenable to working within the customs and expectations of the Chinese culture and government control.

No one gets to criticize the Chinese government without repercussions - certainly no company from outside China as popular as Apple is. No, this is Beijing's way of making sure that Apple is drawing fire - real or imagined so they can keep control. Several of my associates come from China and they provide a unique (if necessarily discrete) perspective on these news items.
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post #28 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by fecklesstechguy View Post

Interesting that this comes shortly after the release of the US embassy documents describing how hard it was for Apple to gain government assistance in China against counterfeiters. Remember that no group remains operational in China without the government's consent - certainly no "environmental group" or groups. They are just alternative spokes-groups for the government to keep Apple off-balance and amenable to working within the customs and expectations of the Chinese culture and government control.

No one gets to criticize the Chinese government without repercussions - certainly no company from outside China as popular as Apple is. No, this is Beijing's way of making sure that Apple is drawing fire - real or imagined so they can keep control. Several of my associates come from China and they provide a unique (if necessarily discrete) perspective on these news items.

This would make sense if the organisation hadn't already approached (and successfully reached agreements with) 29 other major companies.
post #29 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by fecklesstechguy View Post

No one gets to criticize the Chinese government without repercussions - certainly no company from outside China as popular as Apple is. No, this is Beijing's way of making sure that Apple is drawing fire - real or imagined so they can keep control. Several of my associates come from China and they provide a unique (if necessarily discrete) perspective on these news items.

Then your Chinese associates must have thought Google was nuts if they thought calling out the Chinese for hacking into dissenter emails and US corporate sites was going to succeed in getting any changes.
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post #30 of 66
But doesn't manufacturing under these conditions help seed generations of folk who can then participate in drug trials?
/s
post #31 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Menno View Post

29 other companies signed before Apple. How does that make Apple a priority?

Think we have a miscommunication here.
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post #32 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

You forgot to add at the very end ... 'By Americans.' Let us not forget all the US companies who thrive on immigrant labor in CA, legal and illegal.

At least iPads will be made by americans soon in 2012 and will read as follow: Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in Brazil.

USA is NOT the whole freaking continent, NOT the only ones with the right to call themselves "americans"
post #33 of 66
The sharks told me that apple was polluting. All those bamboo forests and bears say they're the cause of environmental issues in china...
post #34 of 66
OF COURSE these things are done due to lax environmental rules in developing countries. Look at the label inside your leather jacket. It was made in China, India, or Mexico. Leather tanning is a nasty chemical process. Remember the John Travolta film "A Civil Action", where he plays a lawyer prosecuting a case in PA, I think, where people were getting sick because of the local leather tannery dumping chemicals into the ground? We've got an old defunct tannery here in western Michigan that's an EPA Superfund site. That industry went overseas because no one in the U.S. wanted to pay to do the tanning in an environmental manner. So it was shipped overseas where it doesn't have to be done in an environmental manner. Yet. Eventually the Chinese will get tired of getting leukemia from pollution, and will make stricter environmental laws. And the price of Chinese goods will go up.

Same thing with chrome plating. That's a nasty chemical process that's usually done outside of the U.S. for the same reasons.

If it were done in the U.S., it would take a lot to make these things in an environmental manner. Clean-up costs would drive the cost of things like your iPad up. And people don't want to pay more. So these processes are done in countries where you can just dump the chemicals rather than clean them up.


As for blaming Apple -- this is very reminiscent of the case with Nike in the '80s or '90s. Nike doesn't make anything, they just contract with manufacturers overseas, often China. Some of their suppliers were using child labor, and rights groups went after Nike. Nike said, "it's not our fault, we don't run the plants, they do." Their claims of ignorance didn't go over well.
post #35 of 66
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post #36 of 66
Lol. I remember this: Apple comes up with products that are free of all kinds of chemicals and greenpeace says they are the worst polluters. Something like a month later they revise the report giving apple pretty high marks.

Just a publicity stunt for the institute making this claim.
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post #37 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Then your Chinese associates must have thought Google was nuts if they thought calling out the Chinese for hacking into dissenter emails and US corporate sites was going to succeed in getting any changes.

..it was a source of amusement.
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post #38 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by plokoonpma View Post

This is funny coming from the #1 polluting country. Blame other for their lack of vision and responsibility......

Smells like a plain ole case of shakedown to me. Apple must be saying no to somebody,..
post #39 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Menno View Post

This would make sense if the organisation hadn't already approached (and successfully reached agreements with) 29 other major companies.

From the Financial Times article (and isn't odd that the FT are reporting this after getting their hands slapped on the App Store thing? - just pondering that one) cited by AI:

Quote:
The groups have sought to persuade 29 big electronics brands over the past year to work with them on containing pollution in their supply chain, but singled out Apple as unresponsive.(emphasis mine)

In a highly unusual move for Apple, the company relented just hours before the report’s publication, inviting Mr Ma to start a dialogue on his allegations. Mr Ma said Apple told him some of the factories on his list were not the US company’s suppliers but gave him no details.

So note that in fact they did not say that the 29 companies complied - they only reported "singling out Apple as unresponsive" and they went ahead and published the report anyway. Never mind that Apple claimed that some of the suppliers weren't even making parts for Apple and that - as cited later in the same article:

Quote:
In its latest supplier responsibility report, the company said 2010 audits had found that 80 facilities were not storing or handling hazardous chemicals properly. Apple’s report said the company required the non-compliant facilities to correct their hazardous waste handling, storage and disposal practices and to maintain documentation of these operations.

No, these activists, just like Greenpeace, are reaching out to the highest profile company to make a media splash, and even if they are not directly involved with the Chinese government, they may not be getting the kind of government regulatory traction they want and decided to use the client companies instead to generate attention. Notice no other company besides Apple was mentioned. Usually a flag.
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post #40 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by pondosinatra View Post

Um, you do know that Apple computers haven't been manufactured anywhere outside of Asia in 20 years right?

On topic.....China has environmental groups???

Might sound picky, but Apple's Elk Grove - CA, Cork - IRL, and Singapore facilities were still up and running in 1999.
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