Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

By Freddie Pierce
Apple has announced that an independent organization, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, will be reviewing the ecological sustainabilit...

Apple has announced that an independent organization, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, will be reviewing the ecological sustainability of its operations.

The move comes as Apple weathers a public relations storm brought on by last month’s much-publicized reports of labor abuses in its Chinese factories.  Environmental concerns stemming from improperly handled waste at these plants are related criticisms the company is now addressing.

Leading environmental activists in the United States and China were the first informed, and although most of the work remains to be done, some were cautiously optimistic about the potential for change.

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IPE founder Ma Jun stressed the importance of objective review, to “make sure that (it) is done in a transparent way.”  Apple has been tight-lipped about the arrangement, but it continues to repeat its corporate philosophy that all workers be treated with dignity and all waste managed responsibly.

Ma’s IPE filed two reports last year documenting harmful waste disposal and toxic pollution at Apple-affiliated factories.  In response, Apple agreed to a more comprehensive review of its practices, likely to be carried out next month.

Given its leadership role among U.S. companies, its behavior at this critical juncture could influence supply chain practices for many years to come.

“Apple now realizes that its brand name will suffer if it continues to be blind to the misbehaviors of suppliers,” said Gary Liu, deputy director of the China Europe International Business School's Lujiazui International Finance Research Center.

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