An Apple store. © Press Association Images
An Apple store. © Press Association Images

Apple declares three cases of child labour in its supply chain

8 April 2016

Apple says it has discovered just three cases of child labour in its supply chain, far reduced from the 91 the company found in 2010.

In its latest Supplier Responsibility Progress the company also detailed other improvements in labour conditions and environmental improvements throughout the supply chain.

According to Apple in 2015 97% of workers in suppliers’ firms were working within the company’s guidelines of a 60-hour maximum working week – a 5% improvement on 2014.

In 2015 suppliers who had fallen foul of previous audits repaid $4.7m to workers who had been wrongly charged recruitment fees. Since 2008 Apple suppliers have repaid $25m to workers.

The firm said it audits all of the 200 facilities it considers most at risk for bonded labour, conducting 69 special investigations in 2015.

A programme was created to help educate migrant workers about their rights by outlining contract terms, the culture of their new country of employment and how to report illegal practices and abuse.

Apple also reported that in December 2015 all smelters and refiners in its supply chain were participating in an audit programme aimed at combating the use of conflict minerals.

The programme, launched five years ago, aims to ensure that the sourcing of minerals like tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold does not fund armed conflict.

But Apple added that participation in audit programmes alone was not enough. It added that even some smelters that had completed third-party audits have been found to have procured minerals from mines allegedly involved with armed groups.

The company said it planned to enhance due diligence, particularly in the gold supply chain to guard against repetitions of the sourcing of conflict minerals.

In 2015, Apple and the Tin Working Group worked with NGOs and mining companies to form a five-year regulatory reform strategy which will define tin mining best practices.

The Tin Working Group was set up following Apple’s discovery several years ago that many small-scale tin mines in Indonesia were putting workers’ safety at risk and causing pollution. 

Apple’s Clean Energy Program to reduce carbon emissions across its supply chain is set to lead to the production in China of more than two gigawatts of clean energy.

Foxconn, whose factory in Zhengzhou manufacturers the iPhone, will create 400 megawatts of solar energy at its factory in 2018 — enough to power final production of the iPhone.

Apple also claimed that its energy efficiency program led to improvements at 13 sites that resulted in a reduction of over 13,800 tonnes of carbon emissions in 2015. 

Meanwhile, in 2015 the company launched a waste diversion program at 22 factories, including all final assembly facilities.

This was aimed at helping suppliers reduce or recycle waste through reusing internal packaging, shipping packaging materials back to vendors for reuse, and limiting food waste from worker canteens.

So far these efforts have saved 73,773 tonnes of waste, Apple estimates.  

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