Apple commits to conflict-free supply chain

Gurjit Degun
17 February 2014

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17 February 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Apple has committed to using conflict-free minerals and will require suppliers to use only verified elements by naming and shaming companies.

The company’s latest annual Supplier Responsibility Report listed 104 suppliers that are not known to be verified by the Conflict-Free Smelter Program (CFSP).

Apple also listed details of 59 companies that are CFSP compliant, and a further 23 firms that have agreed to participate in the CFSP audit.

The company said last month it confirmed third-party auditors had verified all active, identified tantalum smelters in its supply chain as conflict-free.

“We’re pushing our suppliers of tin, tungsten, and gold just as hard to use verified sources,” added Apple.

“The smelter list is just one example of how we work hard to be more transparent, which we believe is critical to improving conditions for workers around the world.”

Conflict minerals include metals such as tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold sourced in the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries. Their extraction may finance or benefit armed groups that are associated with human right violations, explained Apple.

The report also noted the company behind the iPad and iPhone pushed its suppliers to achieve an average of 95 per cent compliance with its standard maximum 60-hour working week. “We tracked more than one million workers weekly in this program,” it said.

Apple also drove its suppliers to train more than 3.8 million workers on their rights since 2008. Additionally, it conducted 451 audits at all levels of its supply chain – a 51 per cent increase since 2012.

The report added: “We continued to seek out abuses of migrant workers by conducting 33 audits specific to this topic, including 16 factories not previously audited.

“We required suppliers to reimburse these foreign contract workers US$3.9 million (£2.3 million) in excessive fees paid to labor brokers, bringing our total reimbursements since 2008 to US$16.9 million (£10.1 million).”

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