Chinese environmental groups accuse Apple of ignoring health concerns

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A consortium of environmentally focused groups in China called out Apple on Thursday for allegedly failing to properly oversee suppliers, accusing the iPhone maker of fostering health and safety problems in factories.



Three-dozen environmental groups from China published the report Thursday, entitled "The Other Side of Apple," which ranks the Cupertino, Calif.-based company as the least responsive among more than 25 technology companies surveyed for details on working conditions. According to The Associated Press, the environmentalist activists are also advocates of workers' rights.



The groups' report chastises Apple for not responding to repeated requests for information related to apparent issues with suppliers. Apple and its overseas manufacturing and component partners, particularly Foxconn, have come under fire with allegations of employee mistreatment and inadequate pay.



The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, based in Beijing, specifically cited an incident with Apple supplier Wintek, where a number of workers became sick after they were allegedly exposed to poisonous chemical. Wintek makes display panels for Apple's iPhone and iPad, and it was reported that the use of n-hexane to clean those displays caused the incident. The chemical can cause nerve damage and paralysis in humans.



Wintek was sued by 44 employees over the incident, and the Chinese environmental group, in its report, said that the company acknowledged the incident to them. But they were apparently upset that Apple would not reveal to the group whether Wintek was supplying displays for Apple's products in that particular case.



Apple came in last place among the 29 companies ranked by the group. Declared the most responsive was British Telecommunications, followed by Compaq Computer and Samsung Electronics.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 2 of 24
    2 cents2 cents Posts: 307member
    Common now! How about the country show some concerns for the environment and its people instead of scapegoating some foreign corporation that has little control over the situation. If apple ever threatened to pull contracts out of China for envirommental or humanitarian reasons, what do you wanna bet the same people would be screaming that an American company should mind its own business?
  • Reply 3 of 24
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


    Obviously a conspiracy, since everyone knows Apple is always #1 in everything.





    The advocacy group will happily change the rating to #1 in exchange for a small donation.
  • Reply 4 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,701member
    Hertz is being accused by the government of ignoring health concerns because Ford workers are exposed to hazardous conditions. Since Hertz buys huge fleets of Ford cars, they should be responsible for what Ford does.
  • Reply 5 of 24
  • Reply 6 of 24
    801801 Posts: 271member
    Heck, Folks, Why do you think that they make electronics in china anyway? Yea, low labor costs due to large labor pool, but do you think that the people of the US would put up with the toxic waste that electronic assembly requires? No way. Thats why the big "domestic" board fabs are in Mexico. Its a mess.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    Clearly, these "environmental groups" need to start with changing the laws IN CHINA and clean up the vile toxins at the source.
  • Reply 8 of 24
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 703member
    unless they're going after every other business that conducts business in china, this is nothing but a witch hunt and total bullshit.
  • Reply 9 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,701member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 801 View Post


    Heck, Folks, Why do you think that they make electronics in china anyway? Yea, low labor costs due to large labor pool, but do you think that the people of the US would put up with the toxic waste that electronic assembly requires? No way. Thats why the big "domestic" board fabs are in Mexico. Its a mess.



    Okay... putting morality on the sidelines for a bit, why doesn't the Chinese or Mexican governments crack down on companies in their respective countries for violating whatever health laws that are being broken?



    I'll tell you why... if they regulate too much, it will be just like you said about America. Their products would cost much more and they fear that production will move elsewhere. That's the reality of it. You know it, they know it, and Apple, HP, Dell, etc. all know it too.



    So how is that the problem of the widget buyer and not the company making the widgets?
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Let's see their tooth paste is poison. Their toys are poison. An their sheet rock is poison.

    Their dog food is no good......not counting of course the dogs the eat.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,368member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mac_dog View Post


    unless they're going after every other business that conducts business in china, this is nothing but a witch hunt and total bullshit.



    Right, and what isn't made in China ..?
  • Reply 12 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,368member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Fast Fred 1 View Post


    Let's see their tooth paste is poison. Their toys are poison. An their sheet rock is poison.

    Their dog food is no good......not counting of course the dogs the eat.



    Apple seem to manage to get top notch products out of China so I am not sure I see your line of thought. Perhaps US companies get what they pay for.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    What I do not understand is that why they are asking Apple for such detailed information. There are two reason why Apple cannot release such information.



    1) It cannot because those companies are not OWNED by Apple

    2) It cannot because it does not know! Again because they are not OWNED by Apple.



    They are not asking for general information, like is company X a supplier to your company. They are asking what happened on a particular day in company X that supplies parts to your company! If Apple had the answers then company X will not be a supplier, it would be called Apple!



    I think these groups should actually concentrate on those companies. Ask them what happened.



    This is like bashing a bootcamp Mac for the shortcomings of Windows!
  • Reply 14 of 24
    If they want information about Wintek, why are they asking Apple? Then they are ranking companies by how much information they are willing to disclose about other companies? What does that ranking even mean? I assume they are trying to get information from Apple's supplier auditors that Apple didn't include in their public report. I doubt Apple really has anything. If they did they would have forced change in the company by threatening to pull contracts. Ultimately it is the employees that need to bring evidence of misconduct forward. If they are unwilling to do that there is very little you can do.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Clearly, these "environmental groups" need to start with changing the laws IN CHINA and clean up the vile toxins at the source.



    True.



    Moreover, how do we know that these are legit environmental groups, and not, say, a front to obtain sensitive intra-company information related to operations? I don't at all mean to sound flippant in asking that: but given the opacity on many such issues there (and the great information walls and such), one can never be sure. Apple does not -- should not -- go around answering questionnaires willy-nilly.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 2 cents View Post


    Common now! How about the country show some concerns for the environment and its people instead of scapegoating some foreign corporation that has little control over the situation...



    Exactly!
  • Reply 17 of 24
    801801 Posts: 271member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Okay... putting morality on the sidelines for a bit, why doesn't the Chinese or Mexican governments crack down on companies in their respective countries for violating whatever health laws that are being broken?



    I'll tell you why... if they regulate too much, it will be just like you said about America. Their products would cost much more and they fear that production will move elsewhere. That's the reality of it. You know it, they know it, and Apple, HP, Dell, etc. all know it too.



    So how is that the problem of the widget buyer and not the company making the widgets?



    Look, do you know why the communist party is still strong in China? I mean historically, upwardly mobile societies leave communism in the dust. Its because the generals and majors own the manufacturing industry. They can get cheap labor from thier expansive prision population. And if you don't play ball with the military industrial complex in China, they eather throw you in jail, or kill you for your organs, or just disappear you. The profit margin on making that walmart crap is astronomical.



    Do you think the Chinese play by our rules? No profit in it.



    Did you see the artical on GAMESA on the front page of the NYT last week? It stated that to compete in the Chinese market, they were obligated to buy the parts locally. Once they gave the suppliers the drawings, the suppliers started to make the parts for themselves too, and sold them to other wind generator companies. You ain't gonna compete against those rules.



    If Apple were not so strong in the market there, the hardware would be everywhere. Heck, the suppliers leak like sieves now. Its one of the staples of this forum to show what they are making. I am sure apple has some sort of industrial defense. But it won't last. Not in China.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    I am dubious about the source of these complaints. I bet not one of these "groups" exists without the express permission (or even sponsorship) of the government, and that their actions are being orchestrated, or at least approved from above. Motive? Keep foreign companies on the defensive.



    I am not saying that you can't find problems in factories, but the downside of a managed society is that others always doubt the sincerity of such actions.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    There's an even bigger problem with this report.



    Apple made the news a while back for finding that some of their subcontractors were using child labor. Apple discovered this in one of the environmental and employment practices audits that they regularly conduct.



    The suppliers publicly stated that Apple was the ONLY company which audited them and forced them to do a better job on environmental and health and safety matters. How is it that Apple is the only global company which even performs an audit, then demands corrections of the problem - yet this 'environmental group' says Apple is the worst?



    I guess it's a matter of "HP didn't report any environmental problems and Apple did, so Apple must be worse" -without even considering that Apple is the only one looking.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    So how is that the problem of the widget buyer and not the company making the widgets?



    I actually think it's both. If one is to act ethically, the buyer needs to have some concern for what the manufacturer is doing.



    However, that said, I'm part of that chain too, and I don't care enough that I'm buying something made by a company who don't work to the same standards I personally do.



    What I'd love to see is consumers be given a choice. I'd happily pay a bit more for a "Made in America" Mac, though I suspect I'd be in the minority.
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