The “Sydney Morning Herald” (http://macte.ch/F9Ke5) reports that Apple has told a prominent Chinese environmental activist that it will soon launch independent environmental audits of at least two suppliers’ factories in China.
The audits come as Apple faces mounting criticism about toxic pollution and factory injuries at overseas suppliers’ factories. The environmental reviews would be separate from an independent probe of working conditions at the China factories of Apple suppliers, including Foxconn Technology, that began last week, according to the “Herald.”
Ma Jun, the founder of The Institute of Environmental and Public Affairs, said Apple agreed to the independent audits late last month in response to two reports that the institute and other environmental groups released last year documenting hazardous waste leaks and the use of toxic chemicals at suspected Apple suppliers.
Last week Apple saiid the Fair Labor Association will conduct special voluntary audits of Apple’s final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, at Apple’s request. A team of labor rights experts led by FLA president Auret van Heerden began the first inspections Monday morning at the facility in Shenzhen known as Foxconn City.
“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” says Apple CEO Tim Cook. “The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.”
As part of its independent assessment, the FLA will interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions including health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management. The FLA’s team will inspect manufacturing areas, dormitories and other facilities, and will conduct an extensive review of documents related to procedures at all stages of employment.
In January, Apple became the first technology company admitted to the Fair Labor Association. The FLA conducts independent monitoring and verification to ensure that the FLA’s Workplace Standards are upheld wherever FLA company products are made.