Chinese environmental group says Apple has 'changed a lot' since 2010

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


The head of a Chinese environmental group that has been a major critic of Apple has admitted the company has considerably improved its accountability over the last two years.



China's Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs has been critical of Apple, particularly following a report in 2010 that accused it along with 28 other companies of environmental problems. Among those 29 companies, Apple was the only one that did not respond.



But that changed after a new report last September, The Wall Street Journal. Apple's new, more communicative approach has been met positively by Wang Ding, vice director for the IPE.



She spoke out this week after it was revealed that Apple will conduct a pollution audit of an unnamed supplier that makes printed circuit boards. Apple announced in February that it would allow independent environmental audits of factories run by its component suppliers in China.



"We think they have changed a lot, especially that they are opening up and allowing an audit like this," Ma said. "It's a good start and a good change, but we will watch closely to see what happens and if they maintain this more open attitude."



Apple met with Chinese environmental groups last November to discuss concerns they have had about pollution. Previously, some reports criticized Apple and accused the company of using loopholes in the system that led to excessive pollution.











Apple's more open approach regarding its overseas suppliers has come under the watch of Tim Cook, who took over as the company's chief executive last August. Cook even went as far as to personally visit an iPhone assembly plant operated by Foxconn when he visited China in March.



In addition to the new environmental audits, Apple has also stepped up reviews of its suppliers with respect to workplace safety and workers' rights. Last month, an independent audit by the Fair Labor Association found a number of violations at Foxconn that the company vowed to fix.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    China's Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs has been critical of Apple, particularly following a report in 2010 that accused it along with 28 other companies of environmental problems. Among those 29 companies, Apple was the only one that did not respond.



    Pot, kettle, black.



    First, Apple does not employ any manufacturing employees in China. Why in the world isn't the above institute asking the actual companies involved for information? Maybe that's why Apple didn't respond.



    Furthermore, anyone who has ever traveled in China knows that this is all a subterfuge. The pollution levels are so far beyond anything that someone from a developed nation would consider acceptable that it's ridiculous. The amount of pollution from an assembly operation is going to be completely insignificant.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,511member
    Ths is Foxconn's problem, not Apple's. Should this group send me a complaint because I buy Chinese-made goods from some company in China witha less-than-stellar record?
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Furthermore, anyone who has ever traveled in China knows that this is all a subterfuge. The pollution levels are so far beyond anything that someone from a developed nation would consider acceptable that it's ridiculous.







    Good points. You've convinced me that Apple is doing nothing better than before.
  • Reply 4 of 24
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    So to be clear, when Apple was the one that “did not respond...” that means the other companies made “statements” with “words,” while Apple merely “changed things” with “actions”?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Ths is Foxconn's problem, not Apple's. Should this group send me a complaint because I buy Chinese-made goods from some company in China witha less-than-stellar record?



    Yes—as a buyer of products, I DO want to know if the place it came from is worth factoring into my buying decision. We consumers have power—why give it up without even knowing the facts?



    And Apple in turn has power over Foxconn, and relies upon them in turn, so it IS in part Apple’s problem. Not total power, but a lot. Witness their successes with labor practices, while other tech companies cover up their own labor situations and do nothing.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,511member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    So to be clear, when Apple was the one that ?did not respond...? that means the other companies made ?statements? with ?words,? while Apple merely ?changed things? with ?actions??







    Yes?as a buyer of products, I DO want to know if the place it came from is worth factoring into my buying decision. We consumers have power?why give it up without even knowing the facts?



    And Apple in turn has power over Foxconn, and relies upon them in turn, so it IS in part Apple?s problem. Not total power, but a lot. Witness their successes with labor practices, while other tech companies cover up their own labor situations and do nothing.



    I think it's great that Apple has the clout to tell a supplier to shape up. In the end, it's a PR stunt on Apple's part. I stand by my belief that the Chinese government is simply ignoring its responsibility to police companies.



    I too factor origins in my purchases. I actually go out of my way to avoid buying Chinese goods when possible. It's almost an impossibility in today's global environment, but I try doing my part.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    eideardeideard Posts: 428member
    "Donations" must be up.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    I think it's great that Apple has the clout to tell a supplier to shape up. In the end, it's a PR stunt on Apple's part. I stand by my belief that the Chinese government is simply ignoring its responsibility to police companies.



    I too factor origins in my purchases. I actually go out of my way to avoid buying Chinese goods when possible. It's almost an impossibility in today's global environment, but I try doing my part.



    "PR stunt" on Apple's part? Really?



    Apple has absolutely no obligation to do anything about working conditions in China. Yet Apple is the only US electronics manufacturer who regularly audits their suppliers. They have standards which their suppliers are required to meet - unlike their competition. And unlike the competition, they put pressure on their suppliers to improve working conditions. All of those things cost Apple money which they have no legal obligation to pay.



    So why is that just a 'PR stunt'? And why are you letting all the other electronics manufacturers off the hook since they're not doing ANY of the things that Apple does?
  • Reply 8 of 24
    My guess is that it is easier to protect the environment with $100 billion in cash. What people fail to realize is that caring about the environment is usually a byproduct of already being wealthy. Apple can stomach lower margins to take care of the environment. If they were sitting on $100 million of cash, I doubt they would have the luxury to change their environmental practices.
  • Reply 9 of 24
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by geoffrobinson View Post


    My guess is that it is easier to protect the environment with $100 billion in cash. What people fail to realize is that caring about the environment is usually a byproduct of already being wealthy. Apple can stomach lower margins to take care of the environment. If they were sitting on $100 million of cash, I doubt they would have the luxury to change their environmental practices.



    So by that logic, companies that aren't making money should be able to ignore environmental and health and safety laws, right?



    Why should Apple have different rules than anyone else? More importantly, why is Apple being attacked when they don't even have any manufacturing employees in China?
  • Reply 10 of 24
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    Yes it should send you a complaint. Further, Apple is Foxconn's largest customer. Large customers have quite a bit of influence on how things are done.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Ths is Foxconn's problem, not Apple's. Should this group send me a complaint because I buy Chinese-made goods from some company in China witha less-than-stellar record?



  • Reply 11 of 24
    This is so silly that it's laughable.



    I've been going to China since '93 for supply chain and QC matters in the musical instrument industry which deals with woods, paint, plastic, cheap metals, etc. The factories I deal with on a regular basis make Foxconn look like a luxury resort.



    Some factories that I visited there are/were so scary that I refused to go on a tour of the facilities. One facility that does the rough woodworking for guitars and ukeleles had only one entrance and the wood dust was literally piled up on the floor to the ankles of the workers. The electric panels and wires were all exposed on the walls. The windows had metal bars. One spark in that building and dozens of workers would die in a minute.



    Painting departments in some of these factories would just have holes punched in the walls to spew out all the toxic fumes and the residues from the buffing operations. The leftover plastics and metals, paint debris, and all kinds of other wastes get dumped into a huge pile of trash that sit outside the factories for weeks at a time. There'd be puddles of sewage water on the side with kids playing in them.



    The great majority of the products you find in Walmart and Target superstores are made in factories such as these. Why don't they target Walmart and Target to do something about factories producing furniture, low-cost home appliances, toys, and all the other low-tech stuff?



    There is a reason why people are lining up at Foxconn instead of a furniture or a guitar factory. Over in Asia, a guitar factory (or similar low-tech products that deal with materials like wood) is considered a "3-D" job in that it's Dirty, Difficult, and Dangerous. Those jobs have virtually disappeared in Japan and Korea and the Chinese aren't keen for those jobs either.



    "Clean" electronics assembly jobs are highly coveted compared to all the other kinds of filthy factory jobs in China. I deal with electronics factories as well (mainly amplifiers) and it's like going out into nature to get a breath of fresh air compared to most factories in China.



    It's just ridiculous that Apple and Foxconn are getting singled out for working conditions and environmental concerns when 99% of the problems are caused elsewhere.
  • Reply 12 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TBell View Post


    Yes it should send you a complaint. Further, Apple is Foxconn's largest customer. Large customers have quite a bit of influence on how things are done.



    Sony and Nokia are Foxconn's largest customers, which is why Foxconn's stock got hammered by the market, when Sony and Nokia announced continuing issues with maintaining marketshare.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by alexkhan2000 View Post


    This is so silly that it's laughable.



    I've been going to China since '93 for supply chain and QC matters in the musical instrument industry which deals with woods, paint, plastic, cheap metals, etc. The factories I deal with on a regular basis make Foxconn look like a luxury resort.



    Some factories that I visited there are/were so scary that I refused to go on a tour of the facilities. One facility that does the rough woodworking for guitars and ukeleles had only one entrance and the wood dust was literally piled up on the floor to the ankles of the workers. The electric panels and wires were all exposed on the walls. The windows had metal bars. One spark in that building and dozens of workers would die in a minute.



    Painting departments in some of these factories would just have holes punched in the walls to spew out all the toxic fumes and the residues from the buffing operations. The leftover plastics and metals, paint debris, and all kinds of other wastes get dumped into a huge pile of trash that sit outside the factories for weeks at a time. There'd be puddles of sewage water on the side with kids playing in them.



    The great majority of the products you find in Walmart and Target superstores are made in factories such as these. Why don't they target Walmart and Target to do something about factories producing furniture, low-cost home appliances, toys, and all the other low-tech stuff?



    There is a reason why people are lining up at Foxconn instead of a furniture or a guitar factory. Over in Asia, a guitar factory (or similar low-tech products that deal with materials like wood) is considered a "3-D" job in that it's Dirty, Difficult, and Dangerous. Those jobs have virtually disappeared in Japan and Korea and the Chinese aren't keen for those jobs either.



    "Clean" electronics assembly jobs are highly coveted compared to all the other kinds of filthy factory jobs in China. I deal with electronics factories as well (mainly amplifiers) and it's like going out into nature to get a breath of fresh air compared to most factories in China.



    It's just ridiculous that Apple and Foxconn are getting singled out for working conditions and environmental concerns when 99% of the problems are caused elsewhere.



    That's my experience as well. I didn't refuse to enter any facilities, but there were quite a few that I was really happy to leave with my entire body intact.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    peter236peter236 Posts: 254member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Pot, kettle, black.



    First, Apple does not employ any manufacturing employees in China. Why in the world isn't the above institute asking the actual companies involved for information? Maybe that's why Apple didn't respond.



    Furthermore, anyone who has ever traveled in China knows that this is all a subterfuge. The pollution levels are so far beyond anything that someone from a developed nation would consider acceptable that it's ridiculous. The amount of pollution from an assembly operation is going to be completely insignificant.



    You are totally deluded. Just because China's pollution is in general quite high, that does not mean they should not criticize Apple for polluting the environment.

    The environment groups in China criticize whoever that pollutes.



    Apple fanboys think Apple can do no wrong, which is totally laughable. In general, Americans burn more fossil fuel that most other people in the rest of the world.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fecklesstechguy View Post


    Sony and Nokia are Foxconn's largest customers, which is why Foxconn's stock got hammered by the market, when Sony and Nokia announced continuing issues with maintaining marketshare.



    You may be correct, however, recent news reports I have read claim Nokia and Sony are two of Foxconn's largest customers, not that they are the largest. Further, I specifically meant for Smartphones.



    Regardless, that doesn't take from my point: Apple holds a lot of power over its partners because not only does it sell a lot of stuff, it often prepays.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post


    You are totally deluded. Just because China's pollution is in general quite high, that does not mean they should not criticize Apple for polluting the environment.

    The environment groups in China criticize whoever that pollutes.



    Apple fanboys think Apple can do no wrong, which is totally laughable. In general, Americans burn more fossil fuel that most other people in the rest of the world.



    Have you traveled extensively throughout China? Have you experienced the pollution first-hand in Beijing and other large cities there?



    Apple's business in China is minuscule compared to everything else being produced there as I alluded to in my earlier post.



    Environment groups in China is almost like an oxymoron. Is this particular group an agency of the government? In global summits regarding environmental matters, it's always China that refuses to accept caps on how much pollutants it releases into the air.



    And I can see China's point in this because it's like, "Well, you guys (the West) didn't have any caps while you were growing industrially and polluting the air all these years. Why should we when we have all these people to feed and employ?"



    China is certainly improving. It's changed tremendously over the 18+ years I've been going there. Factories in China now complain about stringent new environmental laws, just like the factories in the US did. It's not like the Chinese are blind to what's going on. They just have to balance the economic realities with protecting the environment.



    I'm just saying that the factories that produce cheap low-tech goods for the likes of Walmart are much more of the culprits than an electronics assembly plant like Foxconn. Apple is just one of many customers of Foxconn's so why single out Apple? Why aren't HP, Dell, Nokia, Sony, Samsung, Microsoft and many others getting their stuff made at Foxconn called on to do their share?
  • Reply 17 of 24
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post


    You are totally deluded. Just because China's pollution is in general quite high, that does not mean they should not criticize Apple for polluting the environment.

    The environment groups in China criticize whoever that pollutes.



    Apple fanboys think Apple can do no wrong, which is totally laughable. In general, Americans burn more fossil fuel that most other people in the rest of the world.



    Sorry, but you're the one that's deluded.



    1. Apple is not even a manufacturer in China. If they want to criticize customers of Chinese products, why aren't they attacking Walmart and Target? They have singled Apple out for no apparent reason.



    2. Even if you want to look at Foxconn, it's an assembly operation with very low pollution levels. If they want to do something about pollution, wouldn't it make more sense to go after the people who are actually polluting rather than an assembly operation?



    3. Even if you choose to go after Foxconn by way of their customers, Apple isn't even the largest customer. Why not go after the ones who cause the greatest amount of the problem?



    4. Apple is actually doing something about pollution and working conditions - unlike their competition. So why not go after the companies who aren't doing anything?



    Apple does not account for any significant portion of the problem. Yet they are being singled out without any logical reason. It most certainly does make sense to criticize the irrational use of a scapegoat like Apple simply to get attention.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    leonardleonard Posts: 528member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post


    You are totally deluded. Just because China's pollution is in general quite high, that does not mean they should not criticize Apple for polluting the environment.

    The environment groups in China criticize whoever that pollutes.



    Apple fanboys think Apple can do no wrong, which is totally laughable. In general, Americans burn more fossil fuel that most other people in the rest of the world.



    No, what they're saying is, if you want to fix China's pollution problem, China should be go after the big polluters, which they aren't. They going after the smallfries.



    No it's not wrong for Apple to fix their problems, but don't make it sound like your going to fix everything in China by Apple fixing their problems. There's 99.8% more problems elsewhere.



    It's like Toronto trying to fix it's smog problem on it's own, without the US and other Canadian cities along the great lakes fixing the problem too.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    That's my experience as well. I didn't refuse to enter any facilities, but there were quite a few that I was really happy to leave with my entire body intact.



    I'm sure you've heard some stories that are almost unimaginable here in the States.



    One factory manager there told me that a worker had part of his finger cut off operating a bandsaw. He was given a leave of absence with full pay along with more compensation from the government for the accident. He liked that so much that when he returned, he suspiciously got in another "accident" that cut off the part of a finger of his other hand.



    Another story is that the factory workers in the dorms would scheme with plumbers to clog the toilets on purpose so that when plumbers come to the factory to fix them and collect the money, the workers who clogged it would get a "commission" for the job.



    That's what factory life is like over in China.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post


    You are totally deluded. Just because China's pollution is in general quite high, that does not mean they should not criticize Apple for polluting the environment.

    The environment groups in China criticize whoever that pollutes.



    Apple fanboys think Apple can do no wrong, which is totally laughable. In general, Americans burn more fossil fuel that most other people in the rest of the world.



    Just like activist groups every where Chinese groups often criticize those who can give them publicity (like Apple) more. They need publicity to raise funds to run their operations. Would they get one line of press criticizing a no name manufacturer of say kitchen knives who is doing 10 times worse? How many people know of the names of the other companies they audited? How many press reports did you read about those? No one would even bother to write an article if they criticized a 'has-been' like Dell who builds in the same or worse factories than apple.



    "Apple fanboys think Apple can do no wrong, which is totally laughable" .. Nope, truth is actually apple haters "Always think Apple is evil and nobody else is".
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