As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Chinese government officials are investigating Apple suppliers and electronics manufacturers UniMicron and Foxconn after local environmental groups accused both of dumping large amounts of toxic heavy metals into nearby rivers. The area in question is an industrial district 40 miles west of Shanghai that has been a longtime area of electronics development, but has also recently been suspected of letting harmful pollutants into China's environment.
Local officials are investigating plants owned by Taiwanese companies Foxconn Technology Group and UniMicron Technology Corp., said Ding Yudong, the vice director of the local arm of China's environmental regulator. The probe follows accusations late last week by Chinese environmental activist Ma Jun and a group of five nonprofit organizations that the companies are releasing water tainted with heavy metals into the rivers.
An Apple spokeswoman replied to the accusations, saying that the company has been working in cooperation with suppliers and environmental groups to meet the standards established by the company. Apple has published Supplier Responsibility Progress Reports every year since 2007 to track the ethical progress of its suppliers in order to bring transparency to its manufacturing process. The company also recently established an academic advisory board for its Supplier Responsibility program to ensure "safe and ethical working conditions wherever its products are made."
Last month, a Chinese worker’s rights group brought forth allegations of poor working conditions at Pegatron, another primary Apple supplier and electronics manufacturing company. The labor group accused Pegatron of making numerous safety and workplace violations, including the unethical holding of worker pay and poor living conditions within the factory. Pegatron currently employs 70,000 workers and produces one-third of the world's iPhones and iPads.
Top Rated Comments
And the biggest problems are not from the large well-known companies, but from the suppliers up and down the production chain, from mining to making little parts.
I don't think it can be shown that "socialized" industries have a better environmental record than their capitalist counterparts.
Besides frothing at the mouth, what is your solution?
Foxconn makes Microsoft and Nintendo consoles, for example.
This is the same faulty liberal argument I have with my partner. "Apple are so rich so they should fix the ills of the world....."
You can't create a fair and just world by unfairly apportioning blame.
Apple make an obscene amount of money. They make this money because they get preferential prices from companies who want apples business. "I will offer you a long and prosperous business relationship if you give me some more competitive prices". There is nothing wrong with this. It's exactly what everyone would do.
Where the system breaks down is that the supplier is making these preferential prices by cutting corners. That's the crux of the issue. Foxconn are breaking the rules. They are in fact breaking the law, and should be punished for it. Lax chinese laws and political corruption are the problem here, not the fact that apple uses them as a supplier.
We know what's been happening over seas as we're tech savvy and MacRumors has covered these matters many times. Certainly other companies use the same manufacturers, however it doesn't excuse Apple or any other company for not taking a genuine stance. Cook appearing at Foxconn and meeting the workers for photo op's and P.R. is hardly a genuine act towards bettering these matters. If you know that your money is going to support a company which utilizes a great deal of manufacturing from another company with well documented employee and environmental abuse, then indirectly you are supporting that system whether you agree or not.
The tired excuses wear thin after a few years. Since other companies use the same manufacturers with questionable working conditions and toxic waste means it's ok. Heck, if Foxconn can bend the law, why can't we? "We're not Foxconn, so you can't blame us." BS. Electronics companies are not ignorant and blind to what is happening, they feign shock and make a few announcements and perhaps a photo op, but you'd be kidding yourself.
People leave their families to work ungodly hours and live in cubicles next to their factories so we can boast, complain, moan and fight over electronic devices that [frankly] we don't really need. There was a time long, long ago when human beings would actually meet face to face instead of texting and emailing. Wow!