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Summary:

Apple released its latest Supplier Responsibility Progress Report on Friday, detailing efforts it made during 2011 to improve conditions at its supplier facilities, and to make sure its standards for labor, health and safety, and impact on the environment were being met.

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Updated. Apple released its latest Supplier Responsibility Progress Report on Friday, detailing efforts it made during 2011 to improve conditions at its supplier facilities, and to make sure its standards for labor, health and safety, and impact on the environment were being met. Here are some highlights from the report:

  • In total, Apple conducted 229 audits, an improvement of 80 percent over its 2010 total. Over 100 of these audits were first-time audits.
  • Apple expanded its audits to 28 suppliers in Malaysia and Singapore, where migrant workers are known to be in heavy use. The audits resulted in payout of $3.3 million to foreign contract workers as a result.
  • Overall, Apple found a 74-percent compliance rate across eight categories when it came to labor and human rights practices in 2011, and 67-percent compliance when it came to suppliers having management systems in place to deal with the problem areas identified.
  • In response to non-compliance across human rights and labor practices, Apple ended discriminatory medical screening at suppliers that had them in place, cut ties completely with at least one supplier in retaliation for repeat offenses regarding forced labor, and required compensation for underpaid wages, among other measures.
  • Apple has partnered with the Fair Labor Association, an initiative spearheaded by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, to bring outside monitors into its suppliers’ factories to ensure standards are being met.
  • At 14 suppliers in China, Apple conducted “specialized environmental audits,” which involved bringing in third-party environmental engineering experts. Apple intends to continue working with these facilities to correct issues uncovered during these audits, and plans to expand the program in 2012. This will no doubt continue to be an area of contention for Apple, since Chinese environmental groups continue to press the issue, and while they’ve reported being pleased is taking action, they aren’t yet satisfied enough has been done.

In addition to the highlights listed above, Apple also posted a list of its suppliers, containing 156 companies and representing 97 percent of “Apple’s procurement expenditures for materials, manufacturing, and assembly of Apple’s products worldwide.” Apple has been criticized in the past for not divulging specific supplier relationships, so this is a major step towards greater transparency, and one that will likely be welcomed by environmental advocacy organizations.

Update: Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly sent out a company-wide communication about Apple’s supplier report. In it, he highlights some of the progress made by Apple in curbing underage labor practices, improving living conditions for supplier employees, and building an extensive training and education program. Cook also highlights Apple’s partnership with the FLA:

The FLA is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving conditions for workers around the world, and we are the first technology company they’ve approved for membership. The FLA’s auditing team will have direct access to our supply chain and they will report their findings independently on their website.

For the full text of Cook’s letter, check it out at its original posting location at Macgeneration.

  1. The dust explosions at Apple supplier, foxconn has an interesting connection to the University of Michigan. In the 1990’s Chinese scientists came to UM to study with an expert in industrial explosions like those that happened at Foxconn but when they returned to China these scientists went to work on weapons for the Chinese military rather than on improving safety. This has been a problem with these “dual use” technologies that our universities give freely to China, they often go to building up their military instead of to improving the lives of their citizens. Read more at http://www.china-threat.com

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