Apple’s 2014 Supplier Responsibility Report Earns Greenpeace Praise On Conflict Materials

Apple has released its annual Supplier Responsibility report, detailing its monitoring of supply partner labor practices, compliance with regulations and Apple’s standards of business, the environmental impact of its product components and more. Apple highlighted its ongoing education investments in the report, detailing the growth in its worker rights and skills training up top.

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Other highlights from Apple’s report include a new program that extends Apple’s monitoring of worker rights to intern students provided by vocational schools that Apple works with; 95 percent compliance on average with its 60 hour work week program; 451 audits of the supply chain overall conducted in 2013, which is many more than the 298 conducted in 2012; and more transparency about which suppliers and facilities provide its raw metals and materials, including lists of which have been verified as conflict free and which are still in need of future verification.

That last effort has caught the attention and earned the praise of environmental watchdog and activist agency Greenpeace. The organization provided TechCrunch with the following statement regarding its appraisal of Apple’s newest report, from Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Tom Dowdall:

Apple’s increased transparency about its suppliers is becoming a hallmark of Tim Cook’s leadership at the company. Apple has flexed its muscles in the past to push suppliers to remove hazardous substances from products and provide more renewable energy for data centers, and it is proving the same model can work to reduce the use of conflict minerals.  Samsung and other consumer electronics companies should follow Apple’s example and map its suppliers, so the industry can exert its collective influence to build devices that are better for people and the planet.

That’s high praise from the group, and a sign that Apple is indeed doing things right when it comes to sourcing the basic elements involved in making the parts for its products. The name-and-shame tactic will put pressure on suppliers to improve their practices, and make it so that competitors who don’t follow their lead will look like they’re shirking their duties by comparison. Apple took a step in this direction last year by joining the Public Private Alliance on Responsible Minerals Trade, and it’s nice to see them progressing their efforts even further.