back to article Apple blasted for toxic waste spewed by iDevice suppliers

Apple has come under blistering criticism after Chinese environmentalists accused Cupertino's Chinese partners of discharging toxic metals when manufacturing iPhones, iPads, and other must-have products. In a 46-page report issued Wednesday, The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing said it documented illegal …

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Anonymous Coward

"... suspected Apple suppliers"

So, they don't actually know if these dastardly dumpers are supplying components to Apple? They just found dumpers and thought they'd get more profile if they included Apple in the accusation? (Well, they'd be right.)

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Gold badge

Workshop of the world

China gets all our rubbish. All that plastic you put in your recycling bin that you think gets recycled here? nope, it goes over to China.

Anything you buy that is made in China carries the risk of polluting something. It's not a company problem it's a country problem.

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RE: "... suspected Apple suppliers"

The chinese found dastardly dumpers in China, so somebody else must be responsible. Apple makes a very good target at the moment.

Somehow I can understand HP, I'd try to get out of this mess before somebody finds out that my PCs come from China, too :)

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Silver badge

That plastic that goes over to China for recycling

Gets cleaned, shredded, made into fibres and sold back to you as clothing. Just because the Chinese can make this economical, and we can't doesn't make it a bad thing.

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Silver badge

If they imposed...

...environmental controls, they would not be able to make things so cheap. So you'd pay more. And you'd moan.

There is a reason your plastic gadgets are so affordable. If this concerns you at all, vote with your wallet.

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Devil

I wonder about the differences

Between what Apple claims, what it actually asks of its suppliers, what it actually expects from its suppliers, what its suppliers actually do...

Though of course, not a single manufacturer is doing any better than Apple, which is just the juiciest target.

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And the paper the report was printed on?

Has the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs done the same background checks on their suppliers? Who makes their paper, their office equipment, the electricity to run their office? Are they as pure as the driven snow or are they merely hypocrites?

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Alert

Why we can't make a Kindle in America

...because we don't like the idea of dumping waste solvent in the ditch behind the factory, flushing our etching tanks directly into the river, and exhausting fume hoods out the roof without filters or treatment.

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Yag
FAIL

also...

... because the consumer does not want to pay 20% more and the executives does not want to cut their margins in order to pay for the waste disposal devices...

FAIL - as a specie.

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404
Bronze badge
Childcatcher

"regular audits" made me laugh.....

A week's worth of preparation for the dog and pony show is more like it - been there, done that. Now had they said "irregular unannounced audits", I might have believed them, for those tend to keep a supplier/company honest.

Just saying...

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Flame

China = Lack of Regulation = Low Price to manufacture = Outsourced Jobs = Apple

Apple is only one of many environmentally pious, hypocritical manufacturers.

The plain cruel fact is that greedy manufacturers left the US and EU to go to foreign countries for the lack of environmental regulations and cheap labor.

Until US/EU quality environmental regulations are required worldwide (and enforced), manufacturers have no incentive to come back. Let's face it, China had to close down manufacturing and coal fired power production during the recent Olympics so the air quality was reasonable and it still looked like London in the late 1800's.

The only way to bring back good paying manufacturing jobs our respective countries is to institute an environmental tax along with a wage/benefit differential tariff on goods manufactured overseas.

The only thing these taxes could be used for is to support a competitor who will manufacture locally and abide by our regulations.

Our respective governments have done such a fine job managing their economy's that the wage/benefit differential tariff will probably be unneccessary.

Truth be told, it's LONG past time that we took matters into our own hands and changed the face of government forever. We do not work for them, they are supposed to be working for US and instead they only recognize their corporate campaign contributors.

PLEASE explain to me why any "contract" or legal obligation between the taxpayer and the government, implied or otherwise; would still be valid when our leaders have failed so miserably?

At the very least, they are guilty of theft of services; at most they are guilty of treason.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, well

Your solution is to have the govenmeant say how things should be made and how much to pay workers. I belive the chinese tried that method.

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Gold badge

Manufacturing

To the first poster; it isn't the government buying all these things; it's YOU! If you don't want things made there, don't buy things made there.

The problem is this though. If everything was made where you are, you would find that you no longer have enough money to buy all the things you want; what you would be able to earn wouldn't cover the now increased prices of everything. Things are made in places like China because YOU, the consumer insists on having everything as cheap as chips.

As for the 2nd poster; China is still doing this. They dictate the minimum wages; in Shenzen where I had stuff made, it shot up 2 years ago. Oh and they also permanantly shut down a battery making factory of Panasonics when it was shown how badly polluting/poisonous to the workers it was.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes!

Repeal those pesky health and safety laws. It's my head, and I'll accidentally crush it in a hydraulic press if I want to, so there.

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Stop

The word you're looking for is...

protectionism

It allows rich countries to shit on poor or more advanced countries, been around for sometime now. US and EU are pretty dammed good at it.

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Pint

Wait a minute

An environmental group in a communist country? Wow, I need a moment to wrap my head around this ...

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Anonymous Coward

Well ...

These things don't appear out of thin air with zero impact.

Manufacture of electronic components (not just for computers) is and always has been fantastically, hazardously toxic.

But the sheer volume of these things now should have started to ring alarm bells years back. I guess as a species as long as something is shiny shiny we just suspend critical thinking.

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Unhappy

Don't force me... to be... in Apple's... side !

So it hasn't been proved that these polluters work for Apple, and they may even supply other companies!

Apple is named only to get free publicity, what a shameful tactic...

... I feel dirty now...

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Coat

The Electronics Industry

All the public ever see is footage of workers in bunny suits beavering away in a clean room.

It's a CLEAN room! Therefore it must all be REALLY green/environmentally-friendly/etc.

A perceived reputation that is the envy of all other dirty industries.

Time to suit-up....

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Anonymous Coward

Apple's audits

Just to inject a little empirical information into these comments: Apple's audit reports on supplier responsibility - from 2007 to 2011 - are linked to from:

http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/auditing-compliance.html

Methodology and results are all there.

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't that why...

Isn't that why we have things made in China?

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Bronze badge

At first glance

I thought you said "reviewers".

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Silver badge

But but but . . .

It might perhaps be that the manufacture of Apple products necessarily poisons China's environment, but I think that if you ask most Apple users, they will tell you that it's worth it.

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Stop

Only governments can fix this

Only governments can fix this, by banning the import of anything manufactured under conditions which would not be acceptable in the *destination* country.

There are laws against polluting the British countryside, and British workers have certain rights in respect of working hours, protective equipment, fair wages and so forth. Anytime an employer is caught in breach of the regulations, they are quite rightly hauled over the coals.

We need new laws holding manufacturers of goods in foreign countries to exactly the same standards as manufacturers at home. Anything else would be tantamount to saying it's OK to treat Chinese workers that way, but not British workers.

And yes, I am aware this will lead to price rises. We've been addicted to cheap stuff for too long, and this situation is unsustainable. At least if we act first, there is a chance that the whole situation can be managed (and maybe we can even rebuild our own manufacturing industry, when the rest of the world is forced to compete fairly); as opposed to the disaster that will occur if we just wait for the Chinese to start demanding their rights, which is inevitable.

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Anonymous Coward

@ A J Stiles

market forces are doing as good a job of regulating conditions in foreign countries as politicians would do, and at least when we chose to make a stand we get to feel all warm and fuzzy inside, rather than all bitter and twisted because some fat, rich politician has told us we have to do it.

Look at the surge in market share of free-range poultry products, fairtrade fruit / veg / beverages, boycotts against shops using foreign manufacturers that employ child labour and so on.

That we don't yet care enough about the environmental impact of where our electronics are made (whilst we drive 2 miles to the shops in our chelsea tractor before going home to our overly centrally heated house or to work in our overly air-conditioned office, after which we throw away more wasted food at the end of the week than half the world's population would even see in that week, in full understanding that we are likely to die of an obesity related condition whilst we watch pictures on the news of millions of people starving to death) is an indication that if our government legislated as you suggest then the net effect to consumers is that we have to pay a lot more for the same things. That would not be popular with the electorate, which is a bit of a pisser when politics is all about the 5-yearly popularity contest.

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@ Lee

"the net effect to consumers is that we have to pay a lot more for the same things" -- Yes, I said that.

"at least when we chose to make a stand we get to feel all warm and fuzzy inside, rather than all bitter and twisted because some fat, rich politician has told us we have to do it" -- Not half as bitter and twisted as we are all going to feel when -- not if -- workers in the Third World start demanding better conditions, or pollution there actually starts interfering with production.

The inevitable price rise can be managed by gradually increasing taxes on unsustainably-produced goods (and investing the money in sustainable, local industry) until they match the price of sustainably-produced goods.

Or, we can wait until there really is no alternative; in which case, price rises will be the least of our worries. This is a timebomb we are sitting on.

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Anonymous Coward

@A J Stiles

""the net effect to consumers is that we have to pay a lot more for the same things" -- Yes, I said that." - yes, but the point I was making is the difference between our prices increasing because we chose to shop ethically, or because politicians force us to pay more. By extension if the workers force prices up we will view that as either "good for them, they deserve a living wage" or "scrounging bastards, why should they get xx% pay rise when I don't" depending on circumstances and how we are individually disposed to view such situations.

"Not half as bitter and twisted as we are all going to feel when -- not if -- workers in the Third World start demanding better conditions, or pollution there actually starts interfering with production."

Maybe, maybe not. It is one thing to pay more because some fat, overpaid politician demands we do so and a completely different thing to pay more when we agree with the sociological or ecological reasons for having to do so.

"The inevitable price rise can be managed by gradually increasing taxes on unsustainably-produced goods (and investing the money in sustainable, local industry) until they match the price of sustainably-produced goods."

Wouldn't work. If the initial price was £100 for slave labour produced and £200 for ethically produced, say, and you increased taxes on the slavey stuff to make it £125 then you will find the purveyors of ethically produced shit will also increase their prices - maybe not by the full amount but nevertheless. Also, with what we are talking about here, there are no alternatives so you won't actually see any price levelling, you would just see price rises due to increased taxation - which is never popular.

"Or, we can wait until there really is no alternative; in which case, price rises will be the least of our worries. This is a timebomb we are sitting on."

There will always be an alternative as long as there are people prepared to buy the products at a defined price point, there will be people prepared to make them at the agreed price point. The only possible problem is that these things get so expensive they pass into a niche market place and normal people decline to pay the premiums.

Can you explain what "timebomb" we are sitting on here? I cannot see the decline of western civilisation because we can no longer afford iPads, nor do I see hoardes of workers in developing countries rising up, travelling to the UK and burning our houses down.

What I do see is a sea-change in attitudes that means we as consumers start to demand better ethically sourced shinys, and are prepared to pay a little extra to fund that, but I certainly can't see any gadget based timebomb of doom any time soon.

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Yag
Trollface

Ooooh, I smell a weasel!

"Apple is committed to driving the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply chain”

Maybe social issues and environemental issues are not the same thing, who knows...

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Mushroom

Vice Versa

China just turns it around as lead and poison in our pet foods and child toy coatings.

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