Apple’s CSR Report Reveals Serious Environmental Problems

Between accusations that Apple products are produced in Chinese sweatshops and last year’s EPEAT debacle, enthusiasm for the Mac line of technologies has cooled somewhat among environmentally-conscious gadget lovers. The concerns forced Apple to announce audits and investigations throughout its supply chain, and as Treehugger reports, what they uncovered is flat out frightening.

The 37-page 2013 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report details 393 inspections, including 55 environmental audits, a dramatic increase in audits for the tech giant. Still, it seems that the more Apple peered into its own black bag, the more shocking the results. As Business Green points out, the Report revealed “a litany of environmental violations of the company’s Suppliers Code of Conduct” that planet-friendly consumers might find hard to swallow.

Apple Store Logo

Image via Shutterstock

Among the nasty details unearthed in the Apple report is evidence of 147 facilities that failed to properly store, move or handle chemicals; 85 sites that failed to label hazardous waste storage locations and 119 facilities that lacked management processes for labelling hazardous materials; and over 100 facilities were not recycling or disposing of hazardous waste in compliance with local laws.

Even more disturbing is the fact that Apple’s own internal audits turned up multiple child-labor violations in its Chinese factories. According to the Guardian, the Report also found incidences of other violations, including mandatory pregnancy tests, confiscation of workers’ wages to pay off recruitment agencies, and workers’ wages docked as punishment–all things that Apple has denied knowledge of in the past.

Apple’s report defiantly states, “We do not tolerate environmental violations of any kind” but this claim seems in opposition to the reality. They clearly DO tolerate environmental violations otherwise these problems would not exist seven years after they started doing annual supply chain assessments.

Past corrective measures, such as putting offensive suppliers on probation, clearly aren’t working and its time for Apple to stop sweeping these egregiousness actions under the carpet. A company as wealthy and prominent as Apple has no excuse not to clean up its act.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog