Apple’s third-party examinations of suppliers’ environmental safety records in China are pending, suggesting the internationally renowned company is addressing criticism of its manufacturing at all levels.
Apple consented to independent environmental reviews to start as early as March in at least two of the California company’s Chinese suppliers, in response to reports the suppliers were polluting air and water, threatening Apple’s reputation in the country and throughout the world.
Apple’s image is, to some degree, at stake, and opening up its suppliers to independent audits demonstrates a willingness to collaborate with regulatory bodies to prove it’s a trustworthy and transparent manufacturer.
Since China is an expanding wireless market with device manufacturers set on competition where Apple has sights on growth, the company is making moves to preserve its environmental reputation. Apple’s products are racing to become the number-one seller in the Asian nation, the way they are in the U.S., but to keep that stride, Apple must make sure consumers support its manufacturing process. A reputation as a company that pollutes natural landscapes would be a blow to Apple’s potential success in the burgeoning market.
Concerns about Apple’s suppliers were brought by Chinese environmental watchdog, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, in a report last year. The IPE list cited a number of Apple suppliers for events that include chemical waste dumping into rivers, a chlorine accident that poisoned workers to the point of requiring hospitalization, and airborne chemical concerns for residents living near factories.
In response, Apple completed its own environmental audit, finding three of 14 examined facilities exceeded the limit for hazardous waste production, and three had inconsistent waste transport records.
The independent environmental reviews follow work conditions inspections at Apple’s request, done in response to scrutiny of its treatment of laborers at Chinese plants. Apple opened up supplier Foxconn to inspections, along with other points in its supply chain, by the Fair Labor Association following criticism of working conditions at the Chinese factory. Those reviews, coupled with environmental audits, will help Apple better its reputation as a responsible manufacturer, in China and other international markets.
As a powerful manufacturer, Apple is responsible for the conditions of its suppliers, and consenting to third-party audits proves its willing to go under the microscope in the name of improvement.
Though this round of audits is starting small, with only two suppliers, Apple is sending a message that concerns from the public about its processes will be not just heard but addressed through the proper channels.