By Maurits Elen
Severe poisoning and pollution problems in Apple’s Chinese supply chains are now being corroborated by a new report from China’s Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, illuminating just exactly why the company has been so secretive about its factories.
A 46-page report from the IPE shows the results of five months of research and field investigations on pollution emission from Apple’s factories, revealing that the company has been seriously encroaching on local communities and their surrounding environments.
Public health affected by pollution from Apple’s suppliers
Foxconn, the major Apple supplier that’s seen a string of employee suicides since 2010, has been involved in serious pollution resulting from its metal surface processing in its facility located in Taiyuan in Shanxi province.
In recent years, local residents in Shanxi have repeatedly filed complaints against the Foxconn factory’s irritant gases, with the pollution so intense that residents often find it difficult to keep their windows open.
Since Shanxi is home to China’s coal industry (and also formerly home to the world’s most polluted city), we can only guess that the gases in question were significantly stronger than people were used to. Reported symptoms experienced by residents included irritated nasal passageways and watering eyes.
Foxconn, which is mainly engaged in the production and processing of components for mobile phones and notebook computers, has not taken any steps so far to enchance and improve the public safety.
Kaedar Electronics and Unimicron Electronics, both located in Kunshan in Jiangsu Province and reportedly also a supplier for Apple, have been subject to repeated complaints from local residents due to their emissions. The residents of this community worry that the health of their children will be severely damaged, with a village in the vicinity of the company also experiencing a phenomenal rise in cases of cancer.
Another report by the same research team released earlier this year included reports of hazardous waste leakage occurring at Suzhou Lian Jian Technology, also known as Wintek. The report also included repeated complaints from the public concerning emissions from Dongguan Shengyi Electronics’ in Guangdong, as well as emission issues exceeding the authorized standards at several subsidiary companies of the Guangzhou Nanbo Group.
A recent investigation on the Kaedar factory in Kunshan in Jiangsu province revealed the secrecy of Apple about its supply chain.
A resident living near the factory stated that village officials treatened her, and instructed her to not talk to reporters about the pollution. The resident ignored the order, and described the conditions in her village:
“The air is better during the day. But each night, the Kaedar factory — the one where some of Apple’s products are made — it starts to stink up the village air, just like it did before.”
Environmentalist Ma Jun says that since Apple’s a major global brand, he knows that going after the company could have a huge impact on many Chinese companies that regularly pollute.
Apple ignores environmental reports
Despite the growing attention from environmental groups, Apple remains silent about reports of pollution coming from its Chinese supply chain, and continues to shirk its environmental and social responsibilities. In the ‘2011 Supplier Responsibility Report’ published by Apple, not a single violation was based on environmental pollution.
Apple is currently being accused by various environmental groups of having 27 suspected suppliers that are causing environmental problems and inflicting serious damage on public safety and health.
The tech giant has also recently been in the news due to approximately 1000 workers striking at one of their Chinese suppliers, who blocked a road to voice their discontent.