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Apple, Samsung Tin Under Fire

Friends of the Earth has called on Apple and Samsung to tell consumers where they source the tin used in their mobile phones, as part of the UK-based advocacy group’s Make It Better campaign.

The initiatives calls for large companies to be transparent about their supply-chain impacts, and pushes for Europe-wide legislation requiring companies to report this alongside their financial information.

In targeting Apple and Samsung, FOE alleges the two tech giants “almost certainly” use tin from Indonesia’s Bangka Island, and asks consumers to send an email asking the companies to make environmental commitments to Bangka and support a Europe-wide law next year.

According to a six-month FOE investigation published last week, tin mining is destroying forests, farmland and coral reefs, injuring miners and driving away fish and marine life, destroying fishermen’s livelihoods.

The report says Indonesia is the world’s biggest exporter of tin, and about 90 percent of Indonesian tin comes from Bangka and Belitung, a nearby island to the south.

FOE says it contacted Apple and Samsung to ask if the companies sourced tin from Bangka and spokespeople “neither confirmed nor denied this.” In addition to accusing Samsung over its own cell phone models, FOE says the company is part of Apple’s supply chain. In this capacity Samsung’s suppliers include PT Timah, Shenmao and Chernan, which use Indonesian tin (see chart).

Apple came under fire earlier this year when it withdrew — and then reinstated — use of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool for its products.

Last month, EPEAT verified that Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display and Samsung ultrathin notebooks have been verified as meeting the organization’s environmental standards.

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