For the first time ever, Apple has disclosed a list of its major suppliers that produce popular iOS gadgets like the iPad, the iPhone and iPod Touch. The big reveal, part of its 2012 "Supplier Responsibility" progress report released on Friday, is Apple's response to criticism over labor and environmental practices, especially in China.
"Apple is committed to driving the highest standards for social responsibility throughout our supply base," the company states. "We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct as a condition of doing business with us."
The document reveals that Apple conducted 229 audits throughout its supply chain in 2011, up 80-percent from the 127 audits Apple conducted in 2010. Surprisingly, the document states that Apple actually found labor, health and environmental violations. There were even instances of underage labor.
"We discovered a total of 6 active and 13 historical cases of underage labor at 5 facilities," the document states. "In each case, the facility had insufficient controls to verify age or detect false documentation. We found no instances of intentional hiring of underage labor."
Apple adds that it required the suppliers to support the young workers’ return to school and to improve their management systems "such as labor recruitment practices and age verification procedures to prevent recurrences."
In the report Apple outlines the measures it took to rectify all the violations listed in the document. It even confirms that explosions which took place last year at Chinese plants of two of its parts suppliers were caused by excessive aluminum dust.
"We were deeply saddened by events at two of our suppliers in 2011," Apple states. "An explosion at Foxconn’s Chengdu factory tragically took the lives of four employees and injured 18 others. An explosion at the Ri-Teng (a subsidiary of Pegatron) factory in Shanghai injured 59."