Nearly half of the 55 Apple suppliers that underwent a focused environmental audit last year violated the company’s standards and were cited in the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs pollution database, according to the tech company’s annual supply chain progress report.
Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, a 37-page report detailing the results of audits covering labor, human rights, health, safety and the environment, found a string of environmental violations of its Suppliers Code of Conduct.
The report revealed 147 facilities were not properly storing, moving or handling chemicals. For example, some facilities didn’t provide anti-leakage protection or provide separate storage for incompatible chemicals.
Some 85 facilities failed to label hazardous waste storage locations and chemical containers, while 119 facilities lacked management procedures for labeling hazardous waste.
The report also outlined wastewater and stormwater management issues, and found that 96 facilities failed to adequately monitor and control air emissions.
Apple found only one breach it labelled as a “core violation”: a supplier intentionally dumping waste cutting oil into a restroom receptacle.
If a core violation creates serious impacts to the environment, Apple requires suppliers to shut down processes. The supplier is given 90 days to resolve the problem. Third-party experts, such as the IPE or local NGOs, validate the findings and any corrective actions taken by the supplier, Apple said.
Apple also has made a commitment to only use conflict-free minerals. The tech company has mapped its supply chain for conflict minerals and actively surveys suppliers to confirm their smelter sources. As of December 2012, Apple had identified 211 smelters and refiners from which its suppliers source tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold.
Last month, a Verdantix report reviewing 12 consumer electronics companies found that Apple, Dell and HP do a better job disclosing environmental issues in their supply chains than companies headquartered in Asia, including Canon, Panasonic and Samsung.
The report found that companies such as Canon, Hitachi and Samsung are not only failing to disclose their environmental supply chain issues but are also not auditing and engaging their suppliers to the same extent as the leading US firms.