Apple Audit Finds Serious Violations Among Suppliers

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Expanded audit finds higher number of serious labour and environmental violations, but overall compliance has improved

Apple’s regular audit of its supply chain has found a higher number of serious labour and environmental violations, but overall things have improved for its supplier workforce.

Indeed, Apple is supplied by a total of 756 supplier spread across 30 countries, most of whom are now adhering to Apple’s code of conduct.

Apple’s auditing of its supply chain has expanded in recent years as the firm seeks to avoid the negative headlines of past years after problems surfaced with a number of its suppliers.

Supplier Auditing

Apple’s annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report has been in operation since 2007 and seeks to improve “working conditions at supplier facilities, protect the planet and ensure responsible sourcing.”

The latest annual supplier responsibility report includes 197 suppliers that have been audited for the first time.

The audit report had a lot of positives. For example, all iPhone final assembly sites around the world have now been certified as zero waste to landfill. And 625,000 metric tons of waste has been diverted from landfill since 2015.

Apple has also announced the launch of a women’s’ health initiative at its supplier plants, with a goal of reaching 1 million women by 2020.

“More of Apple’s products were made using renewable energy, while also reducing overall energy usage and carbon emissions,” said Apple. “Suppliers working with Apple implemented energy efficiency improvements that reduced more than 320,000 annualized metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.”

“We believe that everyone making Apple products deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and we’re proud that almost 15 million people understand their workplace rights as a result of the work we’ve done over the years,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO.

“We’re going further with health education programs and new opportunities for advancement at our suppliers,” he added. “A new preventive health care curriculum is encouraging women to focus on their personal health, and hopefully share that knowledge with their families and communities. Our goal is to reach 1 million women by 2020.”

Core Violations

But with the smooth comes the rough, and there were still a higher number of serious violations of its labour and environmental policies for suppliers, such as falsifying data, underage workers, intimidation of or retaliation against workers, and environmental damage.

“In 2017, the majority of violations found were related to improper provision of wages and benefits and working hours violations,” said Apple in its report.

“In 2017, 44 Core Violations were uncovered in Labour and Human Rights; these included three Bonded-Labor Violations, 38 Working Hours Falsification Violations, 1 Access Restriction Violation, and 2 Underage Labour Violations,” it noted.

These 44 “core violations” are double that of the previous year.

Despite these core violations, it should be noted that Apple has one of the largest supply chains in the world, and probably does more than many other tech firms to ensure that its suppliers are sticking to its code of conduct.

Last year Apple signalled its opposition to the environmental views of President Donald Trump with the launch of a $1 billion (£785m) bond to finance renewable energy and other environmental projects.

It was the second such green fund from Apple, after the iPad maker first offered a $1.5 billion (£1.2bn) fund in response to the international pact signed in 2015 that aims to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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