Gallery: Is Apple Involved in Heavy-Metal Pollution in China?


When you buy the iPhone 4, you’re buying not just from Apple — but from the Taiwanese company Foxconn, who manufactures the phones (and pods and pads) at their mainland China factories. The company’s abusive labor practices have been reported of late, and now Chinese environmental groups are questioning whether it also violates China’s lax environmental laws.

In May, the environmental groups released a report tracking the connection between heavy metal poisoning and IT production in China. (Lead and cadmium are used to produce mobile phone batteries and printed circuit boards.) More than 4,000 Chinese people — mostly children — were found to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood in the past year. The groups suggested that the international brands, including Apple, that contract with Chinese manufacturers ought to take responsibility for their environmental practices, which sometimes include secret pipes pumping untreated water directly into waterways.

The groups asked companies to provide more information about their Asian supply chains. Apple is one of eight companies that, 50 days later, has not responded. The question now is, why not?

The coalition is encouraging IT companies at the very least to use a map put together by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, which tracks facilities that have been dinged by the Chinese government for their environmental practices — which is to say, the worst of the worst. They’re also writing a letter to Steve Jobs.

+ Pacific Environment


or your inhabitat account below


  1. Week 11: Question /b/. ... May 30, 2011 at 4:15 am

    […] I literally could sit here all day and pound out hundreds of reasons why Apple is a terrible, evil, soulless company, however (much to my disappointment) I have a point to make, so basically the […]

  2. Scruff July 3, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Wonderful way to pad a headline, mentioning Apple always generates hits and ad views eh? What about mentioning that Foxconn also produces products for Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Amazon, Dell, HP, Cisco? Check Wikipedia – they outline them all. How about some responsible reporting?

    They are all responsible for this mess, but particularly Foxconn. If you think that Apple is the only large company to blame then you’re sorely wrong.

  3. ecolibris July 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    On Apple’s supplier responsibility report, Apple is presenting its commitment as follows:

    “Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility wherever our products are made. We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.”

    If Apple really insist as they claim on using environmentally responsible manufacturing processes they shouldn’t have a problem to provide the requested data. Unless of course there’s some gap between the its commitment and the reality..


get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home