Apple conducted 756 supplier audits across 30 countries last year ©Apple Inc.
Apple conducted 756 supplier audits across 30 countries last year ©Apple Inc.

Apple drops 10 smelters from supply chain

9 March 2018

Apple removed 10 smelters and refiners from its supply chain in 2017 because they failed to comply with audits.

In its 2017 Conflict Minerals Report, an annual regulatory report, the tech giant said it had told its supply chain to drop the smelters as they had not completed or were not willing to participate in third party audits. Another six were removed by suppliers on their own initiative.

The filing also said Apple achieved 100% participation for known smelters and refiners processing high-risk minerals including tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, commonly referred to 3TG metals. As of the end of 2017 the firm had identified 250 such smelters in its supply chain. This is the third consecutive year Apple has achieved 100% compliance on third party audits.

These figures were released as part of Apple’s filing under the US Securities Exchange Act 1934.

Separately, the Cupertino firm has also released its latest supplier responsibility report. Its twelfth such annual report said Apple was still one of the few companies to maps its mineral supply chain past the smelters all the way to the source.

Across its entire supply chain Apple said it had conducted 756 supplier audits in 30 countries, representing 95% of the the firm’s spend.

The report said Apple had trained more than 3m people employed in its supply chain last year on their rights as workers, and returned $1.9m in recruitment fees to supplier employees found to be in bonded labour. Apple has a zero-fee policy for all suppliers, it said.

However the report also saw a doubling of core labour and human rights violations, with 44 identified this year compared to 22 last year. Of these the majority, 33, were working hours falsification violations. Apple mandates that suppliers must only work 60 hours a week, bans forced overtime and mandates one day off every seven days.

There were also three bonded labour violations, two underage labour violations and one incident where an Apple assessment team’s access to a site was restricted.

Environmentally, the report said Apple had increased the amount of recycling through its supply chain. Last year all of the iPhone final assembly facilities were were sending zero waste to landfill, it said, and the company outlined a new scheme that reuses protective film used in the manufacturing process to make trays to transport iPhones.

Last year in its environmental responsibility report Apple outline ambitions to build its iPhone out of completely recycled materials in a “closed-loop supply chain”, however this latest supplier responsibility report did not provide any updates.

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