Apple on Wednesday released its latest Progress Report on Supplier Responsibility, an annual accounting of the working and environmental conditions in its supply chain, often in developing nations where enforcement of labor laws and environmental regulations is weak. Since 2007, nearly 15 million supplier employees have been trained on their rights, including 3 million just a year ago.
Despite such problems, Apple said that suppliers were largely in compliance with its policies. Apple works with those suppliers to get them to a higher score. In January, Chinese watchdog China Labor Watch (CLW) issued a report criticizing the labor practices of Apple supplier Pegatron, to which Apple transitioned some of the business it previously offered Foxconn in 2013.
Apple also made improvements on the environmental front. To achieve a zero waste to landfill certification through certification agency Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a factory must divert 100% of its waste from landfills, with a maximum of 10% sent to a waste-to-energy facility. Apple has since ordered the money be paid back to employees.
The way Apple handled its two underage worker violations is laudable. "We're going further with health education programs and new opportunities for advancement at our suppliers".
A new preventive health care curriculum is encouraging women to focus on their personal health, and hopefully share that knowledge with their families and communities. It hopes to have one million women participate in the program by 2020.
"We believe that everyone making Apple products deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and we're proud that nearly 15 million people understand their workplace rights as a result of the work we've done over the years", said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer (COO). The Factory Line Leader Program bridges the gap between skills and employment by providing practical vocational skills and guaranteed internships with an Apple supplier, as well as long-term, full-time employment opportunities. This is twice as many found compared to past year.
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As Newsweek has previously reported, Apple revealed in 2016 that 20 percent of its cobalt supply came "from sources that don't now have responsible sourcing programs in placeto meet our rigorous requirements".
Apple conducted 756 audits across 30 countries and covering suppliers representing 95 per cent of total spend. A score of 90 to 100 is representative of a high performer.
Apple has released its annual supply chain audit for 2017 and it has identified 44 "core violations" of labour rules, twice the number reported in 2016. Apple's production scale is one of the largest in the world, and it mostly comes from factories owned by contractors.
Apple COO Jeff Williams said that the company is "committed to raising the bar every year across our supply chain"; the company also claimed that the increase in violations was driven by an increase in its number of suppliers.
On 7 March, Apple also issued its so-called conflict minerals report, which is required by United States securities regulators.