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Apple meeting with Chinese environmental groups to address supplier pollution concerns

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Apple recently met with five Chinese environmental protection groups to address concerns over domestic supplier pollution after reports had criticized the company for using loopholes in the system.

The Cupertino, Calif., company held the meeting on Tuesday at its offices in Beijing with representatives from five Chinese environmental groups, Penn Olson reports. The three-and-a-half hour meeting included nine representatives from the groups and five Apple employees.

According to the report, Li Li, who attended the meeting as director of EnviroFriends, said she was pleased that Apple made time for the meeting, but she also noted that the company continues to put the burden of responsibility for pollution on its suppliers. Li also felt Apple's attitude wasn't sincere.

Chinese environmental groups face difficulty in challenging Apple over its suppliers, as the iPhone maker declines to list its suppliers. Thus, the groups are left to their own research to discover which offending suppliers work with Apple.

Li said that Apple admitted during the meeting that 15 out of the 27 suppliers accused of excessive pollution were suppliers for the company. However, it declined to state which ones were correct.

"Apple said they had already spoken to 11 supply firms and asked them to reform, and theyre in the process of initiating communications with the other four," Li said.

The company did, however, commit to improving communication with non-governmental organizations in the future and agreed to consider environmental issues in the evaluation process for choosing suppliers.

Ma Jun, a well-known green activist who attended the meeting, called Apple's efforts "a major step forward." Tuesday's meeting with Apple was not the first for him, as he acknowledged that he had traveled to Cupertino, Calif., to meet with a senior executive from the company.

Apple declined to comment on the meeting, but did provide a generic statement to The Wall Street Journal. "Apple is committed to driving the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply chain. We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made," said spokeswoman Carolyn Wu.

Earlier this year, several dozen environmental groups published a report criticizing Apple for failing to properly monitor its suppliers about health conditions. Several months later, some of the groups released a follow-up report that accused Apple of taking "advantage of loopholes in developing countries' environmental management systems." Just prior to the document's release, Apple agreed to meet with the groups to address the concerns.

Apple does conduct routine audits of its suppliers, compiling the results into an annual Supplier Responsibility Report. In February, the company issued its findings for 2011, noting that it had terminated business with a facility that had 42 underage workers.



Also, a recent report from environmental advocates Greenpeace listed Apple as the fourth-greenest device maker, up five spots from last year.

Catcher Technology, a company that is believed to produce 60 percent of Apple's unibody enclosures for its MacBook products, recently ran into trouble at its factory in Suzhou China. The company was forced to temporarily close its plant because of "strange odors" that were coming from it. Catcher was scheduled to reopen the plant in late October, but a recent report said the manufacturer was still awaiting government approval after installing new equipment.
post #2 of 20
Wow! Chinese environmentalist. I didn't think there was such a thing. Those two words Chinese and Environmentalist. I thought most Communist countries didn't care about pollution. Now this is something to write home about.
An Apple man since 1977
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An Apple man since 1977
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post #3 of 20
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Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

Wow! Chinese environmentalist. I didn't think there was such a thing. Those two words Chinese and Environmentalist. I thought most Communist countries didn't care about pollution. Now this is something to write home about.

Well, environmentalism poses no threat to the absolute rule of the Communist Party of China. So they're allowed to exist.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #4 of 20
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Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Well, environmentalism poses no threat to the absolute rule of the Communist Party of China. So they're allowed to exist.

Good point. I guess that would be the case as long as it doesn't hinder the people from slave labor profits to the country's communist purse.
An Apple man since 1977
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An Apple man since 1977
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post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

Good point. I guess that would be the case as long as it doesn't hinder the people from slave labor profits to the country's communist purse.

Funny how these Chinese environmental bashing comments are coming from a country with the most pollutions (both as a country and per capita) - USA. Also, don't people realize that the pollutions in China has dramatically increased over the past decade due to the production of goods for Americans?
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by wishchild View Post

Funny how these Chinese environmental bashing comments are coming from a country with the most pollutions (both as a country and per capita) - USA. Also, don't people realize that the pollutions in China has dramatically increased over the past decade due to the production of goods for Americans?

Oh? And what gives you the high ground?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by wishchild View Post

Funny how these Chinese environmental bashing comments are coming from a country with the most pollutions (both as a country and per capita) - USA. Also, don't people realize that the pollutions in China has dramatically increased over the past decade due to the production of goods for Americans?

Right! (USA and many other countries)
post #8 of 20
I hate pollution. Recently moved to Cleveland, and they don't even do recycling in most places here! To recycle something, I'd have to DRIVE and use gasoline!!! I wish recycling happened everywhere.
post #9 of 20
I applaud Apple for any efforts they make toward encouraging and selecting responsible suppliers. It's not a bad thing to pressure suppliers into being good boys and girls by carefully selecting with whom you'll do business.

In the end, however, having suppliers behave in an environmentally friendly way is up to the supplier and the country where they reside, it's not Apple's responsibility.

And of course, Apple is not going to comment or commit to any enviro groups, because you can never be sure they're not just a bunch of whackos like Geekpeace, err, Greenpreach, err, Greenpeach, err, Green... whatever, you know, those guys...
post #10 of 20
Pretty hard to throw stones living in glass houses
Quote:
China emits more CO2 than the US and Canada put together - up by 171% since the year 2000
The US has had declining CO2 for two years running, the last time the US had declining CO2 for 3 years running was in the 1980s
The UK is down one place to tenth on the list, 8% on the year. The country is now behind Iran, South Korea, Japan and Germany
India is now the world's third biggest emitter of CO2 - pushing Russia into fourth place
The biggest decrease from 2008-2009 is Ukraine - down 28%. The biggest increase is the Cook Islands - up 66.7%

On the other hand
Quote:
Some of the world's smallest countries and islands emit the most per person - the highest being Gibraltar with 152 tonnes per person
The US is still number one in terms of per capita emissions among the big economies - with 18 tonnes emitted per person
China, by contrast, emits under six tonnes per person, India only 1.38
For comparison, the whole world emits 4.49 tonnes per person

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datab...untry-data-co2
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Onhka View Post

Pretty hard to throw stones living in glass houses…


On the other hand…


http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datab...untry-data-co2

The shift of pollutions from U.S. to China is largely due to the shift of manufacturing from U.S. to China. Some per capita numbers can be misleading as they include pollutions created during the manufacturing of goods for other nations. I think average individual carbon footprint numbers are better indicator of polluting behavior of the country. This does not mean China can't do better in controlling growing pollution issues. There are parts of Chinese government that are adding to corruptions in China that are hindering improvements. On the other hand, China is also making big push toward alternative energies and strict recycling policies. The point is that in order to control pollutions, we need to look at both the supply and demand side of the equation.
post #12 of 20
I saw an interesting point of view elsewhere - in arstechnica, I think it was - from someone who'd been in China. This person suggested that what _we_ call "slave labor" is actually considered a good thing by many who work in Chinese factories, as it is a step up from other ways of life. A path toward greater wealth for their families, via (actually) _less_ work than they would have to do otherwise. I can't verify, personally, so this POV could be idiocy.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by logic368 View Post

I hate pollution. Recently moved to Cleveland, and they don't even do recycling in most places here! To recycle something, I'd have to DRIVE and use gasoline!!! I wish recycling happened everywhere.

Apparently you've not had sufficient time to watch the local news casts. There the news and/or weather is recycled sometimes for days on end. My sympathies on your recent move.

Cleveland: A great place to be...from
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple recently met with five Chinese environmental protection groups to address concerns over domestic supplier pollution after reports had criticized the company for using loopholes in the system.

The Cupertino, Calif., company held the meeting on Tuesday at its offices in Beijing with representatives from five Chinese environmental groups, Penn Olson reports. The three-and-a-half hour meeting included nine representatives from the groups and five Apple employees.

According to the report, Li Li, who attended the meeting as director of EnviroFriends, said she was pleased that Apple made time for the meeting, but she also noted that the company continues to put the burden of responsibility for pollution on its suppliers. Li also felt Apple's attitude wasn't sincere.]

I'm not understanding the focus and point of this article. Apple meets with multiple Chinese enviromental protection groups over concerns regarding Chinese manufactures. Which just happen to manufacture products for Apple.

Li Li seems to feel Apple should be doing more and appears insincere? Let's recap: A Chinese group complains to an American based company over Chinese manufacturers' pollution. Then expects the American company to do something about it? What's wrong with this picture?

I would have thought that the Chinese group would have first approached the Chinese manufacturers, and not getting the results anticipated, then approach appropriate Chinese governmental officials. I'm guessing there were told to take a flying leap into the Pacific.

Just think the outcry if an American enviromental group approached a Chinese company to complain about an American parts suppliers' alleged pollution. And then expected the Chinese company to intervene on American soil.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mytdave View Post

In the end, however, having suppliers behave in an environmentally friendly way is up to the supplier and the country where they reside, it's not Apple's responsibility.

I completely agree.

These Chinese environmentalist groups are barking up the wrong tree. They should be having meetings with the suppliers and their local governments. But they would probably be "disappeared" if they did.

This is all a political game played by the Chinese government. They sic these (maybe well-meaning) environmentalists on foreign companies like Apple to get publicity, but meanwhile, they harass environmental lawyers who are fighting against domestic companies that pollute much worse. A documentary on PBS reported that an entire province's river was polluted so badly by a local company that crops no longer grew and many of the children had birth defects.

Apple should continue to pressure their suppliers to be greener, but they should not be taking the blame.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by wishchild View Post

The shift of pollutions from U.S. to China is largely due to the shift of manufacturing from U.S. to China. Some per capita numbers can be misleading as they include pollutions created during the manufacturing of goods for other nations. I think average individual carbon footprint numbers are better indicator of polluting behavior of the country. This does not mean China can't do better in controlling growing pollution issues. There are parts of Chinese government that are adding to corruptions in China that are hindering improvements. On the other hand, China is also making big push toward alternative energies and strict recycling policies. The point is that in order to control pollutions, we need to look at both the supply and demand side of the equation.

So the solution is simple. China can just decide not to manufacture things for people in other countries . . . but that's not likely to happen anytime soon, is it?

China has decided that money is more important than a healthy environment. Most western countries, who have already gone down this path, have shifted the other way. Corporations (of any national origin) don't care either way. They just want money and it's easier to make it in China et al, where the environment is not a priority. Apple is not representative of typical corporations in that it takes a good bit of care in choosing what foreign companies it works with, monitors their activities, and designs their products to be clean and efficient in production, use, and end of life. Their competitors and suppliers don't even come close (except in lip service and donations to Greenpeace.)
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

Wow! Chinese environmentalist. I didn't think there was such a thing. Those two words Chinese and Environmentalist. I thought most Communist countries didn't care about pollution. Now this is something to write home about.

The Chinese citizens do care a lot about the environment. It is the Americans who produce pollution the most per capita. The Americans produce large amount of pollution from factories, nuclear power plants, and hundreds of millions of cars. The wasteful habits of Americans should be changed.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by peter236 View Post

The Chinese citizens do care a lot about the environment. It is the Americans who produce pollution the most per capita. The Americans produce large amount of pollution from factories, nuclear power plants, and hundreds of millions of cars. The wasteful habits of Americans should be changed.

Americans in particular and the west in general do produce too much pollution. But it's silly to just blame Americans. Most of the world's pollution comes from emerging economies and their share of pollution is growing fast.

Pollution from American nuclear power plants? You probably need to get better informed. And ask the Tibetans about Chinese pollution. Among other things, China has turned parts of pristine Tibet into a filthy nuclear waste dumping ground.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by DESuserIGN View Post

Americans in particular and the west in general do produce too much pollution. But it's silly to just blame Americans. Most of the world's pollution comes from emerging economies and their share of pollution is growing fast.

One of the reasons manufacturing is cheaper in countries like China really is the lack of enforced environmental laws. Even environmental law here should be better enforced. Recall BP and the gulf not that long ago ?

Permitting things that benefit the economy to ignore environmental concerns is just a stupid long term strategy for any country. Our own pollution has shifted to emerging economies partially because we outsource all of our manufacturing there.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple recently met with five Chinese environmental protection groups to address concerns over domestic supplier pollution after reports had criticized the company for using loopholes in the system.

They have "Environmental Activists" in China now?

I was reading this report in China Daily while flying in. You could smell the pollution as the plane neared Beijing, long before we landed. It was the smell of coal smoke similar to the "Smog" in London fifty years ago, see < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Air_Act_1956 >.

The same paper carried a report that coal-fired power stations had been removed from central areas of the city - yet when the smog cleared, I could see from my hotel a big chimney belching black smoke. Another story said that environmental officials, who receive promotion based on how much they have "improved" the environment, should take into account public opinion, which does not believe their statistics.

Apple's suppliers are Chinese manufacturers, and Apple has not instructed them to discharge toxic waste. You will know that the Chinese have become serious about pollution when you read about factory managers being executed for discharging toxic waste. Until then, it is just a shake-down, sticking it to the Yankee man in the hope of getting them to pay more.
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