This hasn't been a great month for Apple: bad publicity for waging war on the little guy and the art of self-repair with the Pentalobe screw, the unfortunate news that Steve Jobs' health has taken a bad turn, and now a report coming out of China that puts the company last in a list of 29 tech giants ranked for their responses on pollution and workers' rights, including occupational health hazards, at their suppliers' factories.The report, written by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs with a coalition of other Chinese NGOs, says that behind the company's stylish image, "Apple products have a side that many do not know about--pollution and poison. This side is hidden deep within the company's secretive supply chain, out of view from the public."
The report (well-illustrated in an accompanying video) points to suicides at Apple supply chain factories, and to the company's lack of response to the poisoning of 49 workers at a factory owned by a subsidiary of Wintek, a Taiwan-based company that produces touchscreen modules for Apple.
BusinessGreen quotes the report further:
"Apple has broken its promise on three aspects of supply-chain social responsibilities," said the report. "On Apple's supply chain, some workers were poisoned and disabled, neighbourhoods and communities were polluted while there were severe infringement of workers' rights, interest and dignity."
The groups accused Apple of "dodging" legitimate questions about the activities of its suppliers.
Other companies that were ranked include HP, Samsung, Toshiba, Vodafone, Sharp and Hitachi, which fared well because they were found to be more transparent.
Nokia, LG, SingTel, and Ericsson didn't score quite so well—again because of citations of being unresponsive and not taking corrective actions, but, the Financial Times reports, "none fares as badly as Apple, which is criticised for being evasive and not responding to the NGOs' concerns."