Apple Releases 2019 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report

Apple today released its 2019 Supplier Responsibility Report, offering a look into Code of Conduct violations in Apple's supply chain and details on progress made with programs promoting health, education awareness, and more.

Apple shares an updated Supplier Responsibility Report on an annual basis in an effort to be transparent about the worker conditions in supplier factories and the steps that Apple takes to improve the lives of the employees that create the range of Apple products available to consumers. Data for these reports are gathered from audits of Apple supplier facilities, with 770 locations audited across 30 countries in 2018.


As of 2018, Apple says that 17.3 million supplier employees have received training in workplace rights, while 3.6 million have been provided with advanced education skills and training, including App Development with Swift courses. Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams said that in everything Apple does, "people come first."
"We are constantly raising the bar for ourselves and our suppliers because we are committed to the people who make our products possible as well as the planet we all share. This year, we're proud to give more people an opportunity to advance their education. Working alongside our suppliers, we're challenging ourselves to find new ways to keep our planet healthy for future generations. Our goal has always been not just to drive progress in our supply chain, but to drive meaningful change across the industry."
Employees who participated in the Swift training course have created more than 40 apps, while more than 1,500 Apple supplier employees were able to earn a college degree through Apple's educational offerings. Health training programs covering nutrition, maternal health, and more have reached upwards of 250,000 people.

Over the years, Apple has had problems with debt-bonded labor in its supply chain, where recruiters charge factory workers for a job. Apple has long disallowed this practice, and in 2018, Apple introduced new programs to prevent debt-bonded labor in high-risk locations and it limited subcontracting for custodial staff in retail stores. Stricter standards for suppliers who hire foreign contract workers were also implemented.

Apple in 2018 saw a 30 percent increase in "high-performing" suppliers that adhere to the guidelines in its supplier Code of Conduct. On a 100 point assessment scale implemented by Apple, its suppliers earned an overall score of 89 in the Labor and Human Rights category, up from 86 in 2017. The deductions in score came primarily from violations related to working hours and wages.


Apple discovered 24 working hours falsification violations, two debt-bonded labor violations, and a single underage labor violation.

For Health and Safety and Environment, Apple's suppliers earned an overall score of 93 in each category, up from 90 and 91, respectively, in 2017.

As for environmental efforts, Apple says that all of its final assembly sites for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, AirPods, and HomePod are now certified "Zero Waste to Landfill" thanks to a focus on reuse and recycling. Apple suppliers have diverted 1 million tons of garbage from landfills over the course of three years.

Apple has also expanded its clean water program to 116 suppliers, saving 7.6 billion gallons of water in 2018. Greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by more than 466,000 annualized metric tons, equivalent to removing 100,000 cars from the road.

Apple's full report [PDF] goes into much more detail on the specific programs available to supplier employees and the results from those programs, plus it provides a deeper look into conditions at supplier locations and offers more insight into Apple's environmental efforts.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


This article, "Apple Releases 2019 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Releases 2018 Conflict Minerals Report, Remains ‘Deeply Committed’ to Responsible Sourcing

Apple today filed its 2018 Conflict Minerals Report with the SEC as part of its commitment to supplier responsibility.


Apple said it remains "deeply committed" to upholding human rights across its global network of suppliers and "works to safeguard the well-being of people involved in its supply chain and to protect the places where materials are sourced."

Apple commits to use minerals in its products that do not directly or indirectly finance armed conflict or benefit armed groups.
As of December 31, 2018—for the fourth straight year—100 percent of identified smelters and refiners in Apple's supply chain for all applicable products manufactured during calendar year 2018 participated in an independent third-party conflict minerals audit ("Third Party Audit") program for columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite, gold, wolframite, or their derivatives, which presently are limited to tantalum, tin, and tungsten (collectively, "3TG").

In 2018, Apple directed its suppliers to remove from its supply chain five smelters and refiners not willing to participate in, or complete, a Third Party Audit or that did not otherwise meet Apple's requirements on the responsible sourcing of minerals. Of the 253 smelters and refiners of 3TG determined to be in Apple's supply chain as of December 31, 2018, Apple found no reasonable basis for concluding that any such smelter or refiner sourced 3TG that directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups.
In 2017, The Enough Project said Apple was the "clear leader" among companies around the world at developing efforts to source conflict-free minerals from suppliers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


This article, "Apple Releases 2018 Conflict Minerals Report, Remains 'Deeply Committed' to Responsible Sourcing" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Investigating Report of Forced Student Labor at Chinese Factory

Apple today said it is "urgently investigating" a report that claims Apple Watch manufacturer Quanta Computer has subjected teenage students to illegal work conditions at its factory in the Chinese city of Chongqing.


"We are urgently investigating the report that student interns added in September are working overtime and night shifts," Apple said, in a statement issued to CNN. "We have zero tolerance for failure to comply with our standards and we ensure swift action and appropriate remediation if we discover code violations."

In a report last week, Hong Kong labor rights group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior said Quanta was "using significant numbers of student workers aged 16-19 years" to assemble the Apple Watch, with working conditions that do not comply with Chinese regulations or Apple's own standards.

Based on an investigation during the summer of 2018, SACOM found that many students were forced to complete internships at Quanta, or face the risk of delayed graduation. The internships were often unrelated to each student's field of study, and lacked an educational component, according to the findings.

"Our school told us that we will be deferred if we don't do the internship," said a student majoring in early education. "If we resign then we will also receive our graduation certificate half a year later than others."

The report also found that students were often illegally required to work at least a few hours of overtime per day and overnight shifts.

In its statement, Apple said it audited Quanta's factory in Chongqing three times between March and June, and found "no student interns working on Apple products at that time," but noted students may have been hired in September. Apple has promised to take appropriate action if it discovers any violations.

On its Supplier Responsibility website, Apple says it holds itself and its suppliers to the "highest standard" when it comes to human rights, environmental protections, and responsible business practices in the supply chain.

In its 2018 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, Apple said it has enforced a limit of "no more than 10% student workforce at a supplier facility." The report adds that suppliers can offer overtime "only on a voluntary basis" and factories must give employees "one full day of rest for every six days worked."

Last year, Apple and its largest manufacturer Foxconn confirmed instances of students working overtime to assemble the iPhone X, and both companies vowed to take remedial action. Apple said the overtime work was completed voluntarily, with proper compensation and benefits, but in violation of Foxconn's policy.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Announces New $300 Million Clean Energy Fund in China

Apple today announced the launch of a $300 million investment fund in China which is designed to connect Apple's suppliers with renewable energy sources.

Apple, along with 10 initial suppliers, is investing $300 million into the China Clean Energy Fund over the course of the next four years. Apple says the fund will invest in and develop clean energy projects totaling more than 1 gigawatt of renewable energy in China, which is equivalent to powering close to 1 million homes.


Apple's new fund will be managed by DWS Group, a company that specializes in sustainable investments. DWS also plans to invest in the fund.
"At Apple, we are proud to join with companies that are stepping up to address the climate challenge," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. "We're thrilled so many of our suppliers are participating in the fund and hope this model can be replicated globally to help businesses of all sizes make a significant positive impact on our planet."
According to Apple, the China Clean Energy Fund will provide participates with the advantage of greater purchasing power and the ability to attain "more attractive and diverse" clean energy solutions.

Participating suppliers include Catcher Technology, Compal Electronics, Corning Incorporated, Golden Arrow, Jabil, Luxshare-ICT, Pegatron, Solway, Sunway Communication, and Wistron.

Apple earlier this year announced that all of its facilities around the world are powered by 100 percent renewable energy, a milestone achievement for the company.

To hit that goal, Apple invested in and constructed renewable energy facilities around the world, including solar arrays, wind farms, biogas fuel cells, micro-hydration generation systems, and other energy storage technologies.

Since the launch of its Supplier Clean Energy Program in 2015, 23 manufacturing partners across 10 countries have committed to powering their Apple production lines with 100 percent clean energy.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Taking Action After Students Worked Overtime to Assemble iPhone X at Foxconn

Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn have confirmed instances of students working overtime to assemble the iPhone X, and both companies are now taking remedial action, as reported by the Financial Times.

A technician inspecting iPhone components at a factory

Apple conducted an audit and confirmed "instances of student interns working overtime at a supplier facility in China," according to the report. "We've confirmed the students worked voluntarily, were compensated and provided benefits, but they should not have been allowed to work overtime," it added.

Foxconn said that "all work was voluntary and compensated appropriately," but admitted that the interns "did work overtime in violation of our policy," which reportedly prohibits interns working more than 40 hours per week.

The statements from Apple and Foxconn come after six high school students told the Financial Times they routinely work 11-hour days assembling the iPhone X at Foxconn's factory in Zhengzhou, China.
"We are being forced by our school to work here," said Ms Yang, an 18-year-old student training to be a train attendant who declined to use her first name for fear of punishment. "The work has nothing to do with our studies." She said she assembled up to 1,200 iPhone X cameras a day.
The students, aged 17 to 19, reportedly said they were told that a three-month stint at the factory was required "work experience" that they had to complete in order to graduate from Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School.

Foxconn is believed to hire a significant number of seasonal workers each year to assemble the latest iPhone models in time for the busy holiday shopping season. The report, citing an anonymous Foxconn employee, said there can be up to 300,000 workers producing up to 20,000 iPhones per day.

As part of its supplier responsibility efforts, Apple requires its manufacturing partners like Foxconn to limit working hours to no more than 60 hours a week, with a mandatory rest day once every seven days.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Ranked as ‘Clear Leader’ in its Efforts to Source Conflict-Free Minerals From Supply Chain

Apple has been designated the "clear leader" in its methods of supporting a conflict-free minerals trade throughout its supply chain. The title was awarded to the company in a report published by the Enough Project, called the 2017 Conflict Minerals Company Rankings, in which Apple sits at the #1 spot. Rounding out the top 5 spots are Alphabet/Google at #2, HP at #3, Microsoft at #4, and Intel at #5.

The new Conflict Minerals Company Rankings look at 20 of the world's largest companies in two of the industries that the Enough Project says "consume the most" tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold: consumer electronics and jewelry retail. These minerals are referred to as conflict minerals because they're most often related to being sourced within war-torn countries that mine the minerals with little to no respect for workers' rights.

Chart via the Enough Project

The Enough Project gathered these top 20 companies and awarded points to each based on the policies and practices that they enact regarding responsible mineral sourcing, with the lowest on the list designated as companies most in need of "considerable and urgent need for more action." In total, the companies were ranked based on four core categories:
- Conducting Conflict Minerals Sourcing Due Diligence and Reporting
- Developing a Conflict-Free Minerals Trade and Sourcing Conflict-Free Minerals from Congo, Particularly Gold
- Supporting and Improving Livelihoods for Artisanal Mining Communities in Eastern Congo
- Conflict-Free Minerals Advocacy
In its full report, Apple is placed in the "Outstanding Company Efforts" section, which represents the companies "going above and beyond to get more directly at the heart of maintaining robust due diligence practices and sourcing conflict-free minerals from Congo." Specifically, Apple is the only company to receive full credits for identifying and following up with supply chain incidents reported to it by suppliers and other sources. Apple has "clearly demonstrated its commitment" to scouring for red flags related to these reports and taking action by dropping suppliers and others in its supply chain that turn out to be noncompliant with its standards.

After developing its Risk Readiness Assessment program in order to help identify conflict minerals sourcing in its supply chain, among other risk-related sourcing factors, Apple partnered with the Responsible Business Alliance in order to make this program widely accessible to other companies. According to the Enough Project, this put Apple above and beyond all other companies ranked on the list.
Apple not only has found better ways of addressing incidents within its own supply chain, but it has also helped develop shared centralized platforms for risk assessment that other companies can use. This extra effort contributes to the overall strengthening of conflict minerals supply chain due diligence.
The Enough Project's report follow a separate study published by Amnesty International earlier this week, which described Apple as the industry leader in responsible cobalt sourcing. That report said Apple has taken "adequate" action in terms of sourcing conflict-free minerals, earning a top ranking alongside Samsung in the same category.

Apple annually discusses this part of the supply chain in its Supplier Responsibility Reports, which typically come out around February and March. This year's report highlighted cobalt supplier audits in the Congo, its "highest ever" work hour compliance, and discussed the success of Apple's Supplier Education Program. These reports are intended to show the strides that Apple takes to improve the work lives of its device manufacturing employees, who work to create products including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and more.

To see more of the Enough Project's 2017 Conflict Minerals Company Rankings, visit the project's website here.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


Discuss this article in our forums