Apple released its annual supplier responsibility report this week, which detailed a number of labor and environmental violations in the company’s supply chain. The most troubling revelation, and the one that is getting the most media attention, is the discovery of multiple cases of child labor, as the internal audit found that 106 children were employed at 11 factories that produced Apple products in the past year. But that isn’t all; the audit also found that many of the company’s suppliers failed to properly store and handle hazardous waste, and that over 100 facilities failed to recycle or properly dispose of hazardous waste.
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Apple may score some points for transparency, but many of the discoveries published in the Supplier Responsibility Progress Report are very concerning. In addition to underage workers, the report, which monitor’s the company’s 400 suppliers, uncovered “a catalogue of other offenses, ranging from mandatory pregnancy tests, to bonded workers whose wages are confiscated to pay off debts imposed by recruitment agencies,” according to Reuters. One Chinese supplier, Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics, was terminated when Apple discovered that it had employed 74 underage workers.
In an interview with the Huffington Post Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams vowed to clean up the labor issues in the company’s supply chain. “We go deep in the supply chain to find it,” Williams said. “And when we do find it, we ensure that the underage workers are taken care of, the suppliers are dealt with.”
As for the environmental violations, Apple found that 35 of its suppliers lacked the necessary protections to prevent stormwater contamination, and, to its credit, the company ”was forced to instruct 10 suppliers to immediately stop the practice of discharging wastewater into a stormwater drain,” BusinessGreen reports. Overall, 120 suppliers lacked proper air emissions monitors and almost one-quarter of Apple’s suppliers were not compliant with the company’s requirement.