1. Akshay Masand's Avatar

    Apple recently released its latest Supplier Responsibility report covering a wide range of human and environmental issues, noting that it will be cracking down on the use of so-called “conflict minerals.” In the annual report, Apple’s eighth such publication, the company said it enforced its strict Supplier Code of Conduct through 451 audits, training and education.

    The Cupertino California company achieved an average 95% compliance rate with the maximum 60-hour work week, often a bone of contention for human rights groups that come down hard on Chinese labor practices. The number is pup from 92% a year ago. In addition to the usual maintenance and improvements, Apple will also be keeping a closer eye on where suppliers source their minerals. The Cupertino California company is looking to steer clear of “conflict minerals,” or materials sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the sales of which are used to fund fighting in the region.

    The new initiative is said to be an extension of the report that already covers workers’ rights and environmental issues relating to the manufacture of Apple products. The report mentions the following regarding the matter:

    The ethical sourcing of minerals is an important part of our mission to ensure safe and fair working conditions. In January 2014 we confirmed that all active, identified tantalum smelters in our supply chain were verified as conflict-free by third party auditors, and we're pushing our suppliers of tin, tungsten, and gold just as hard to use verified sources. To heighten smelter accountability and help stakeholders follow our progress, we are releasing, for the first time, a list of the smelters andrefiners in our supply chain along with their verification status.
    In a recent interview with The Financial Times, Apple SVP of Operations, Jeff Williams, said that January was the first time the company was able to verify that all of the tantalum used in its devices, for capacitors and resistors, came from non-conflict zones.

    Although the electronics industry is responsible for over half of the world’s tantalum consumption, it isn’t a major player in the use of tin, tungsten and gold, meaning actions from companies like Apple will have little impact on smelters of those minerals. Apple will instead be using its high-profile brand to spotlight suppliers’ smelters in a quarterly report, noting which firms do or do not comply with “ethical sourcing guidelines.”

    As of right now, 59 smelters were found to be compliant, while another 23 are part of the Conflict-Free Smelter Program. That being said, more work can be done as the status of 104 smelters remains unknown. The CFSP is an initiative of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), which counts Apple, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Sony and Dell among its members. Williams said the following regarding the matter:

    We think it has the chance to make a difference. The smelters are a choke point where all this flows through. If we can get as many smelters verified [as possible] through this pressure, then we have a real chance of influencing the various activities on the ground.
    Source: Apple (PDF Download) (1) (2), The Financial Times

    Twitter: @AkshayMasand
    2014-02-14 09:32 AM
  2. fleurya's Avatar
    Look, she's holding a new iPad Pro!
    2014-02-14 04:37 PM