Apple: Company Profile

Apple has long been the target of a number of campaigns due to the workers' rights issues at its supplier factories.

But the mutli-billion pound computing giant has also been found wanting in other areas.

Last updated: October 2015

Annual Revenue$36.43 billion a year


Other Brands-


Company Score6 out of 20



Ethical Consumer Best Buy?No


Ethical issues by category

In 2014 a report published by China Labor Watch (CLW) and Green America found a number of serious health and safety, environmental, and human rights violations at an Apple supplier factor in China.

CLW investigated the Apple suppliers, Catcher in April 2013. CLW said it reported its findings to Apple privately, after which Apple committed to reforming some of the problems. The report released in 2014 demonstrated that in the time that elapsed Apple did not make any progress on improving conditions for its workers. 

Violations found at the factory included:

  • Dumping of industrial fluids and waste into groundwater and nearby rivers
  • Excessive hours for all workers, including student interns
  • Forced overtime. 
  • Inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for handling toxic materials, such as metal cutting fluids.


An article published in the Economist on 14 March 2015 stated that Apple had discovered instances of unethical hiring practices in its supply chain.  Apple reportedly said that if it found that a supplier was using recruiters who charged potential employees fees, it would insist that they were repaid.

Workers typically raised the cash by taking on debts that tied them to employers—a modern-day version of the ancient practice of bonded labour. Apple made suppliers reimburse around $4m collected in 2014 from some 4,500 workers, and had brought in checks to ensure the practice stopped.


Apple received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for environmental reporting in 2015. Whilst the information in the report covered Apple's main environmental impacts, including conflict minerals, there were no future dated, quantified targets for improvements in its environmental performance.

The environment section of Apple's website was viewed in August 2015, along with its latest Environmental Responsibility Report, dated 2014. Both included sections on the company's main environmental impacts - climate change, waste, toxics and water.

The company reported that its target was to use 100% renewable electricity at all Apple facilities. In 2014 all energy used by its US operations was powered by renewables.

All its products were BFR, lead, mercury and arsenic free. All its products had PVC and phthalate free power cables however in some countries power cords still contained PVC (India and Republic of Korea). It said that in 2014 every Apple store worldwide took back Apple products for recycling.

There was third party verification by Bureau Veritas (BV) but only for carbon emissions reporting.


In August 2015 Ethical Consumer awarded Apple a worst mark for strategies likely to be used to avoid tax. This was because the family tree for Apple Inc on and showed that the company had subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Singapore and Switzerland. Inaddition Apple's SEC filing 10-K exhibit 21.1 also listed a significant subsidiary in Nevada.

These were jurisdictions which were considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens.  At least three were holding companies and therefore considered to be at high risk of being used for tax avoidance purposes.

In addition Apple had received many criticisms from other sources for its tax avoidance. Therefore the company received Ethical Consumer's worst ranking for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.

Research conducted by Ethical Consumer in July 2014 found that Apple was routing UK sales from its iTunes platform through Luxembourg - "About iTunes: Our registered number is RCS Luxembourg B 101 120 and our registered office is at 31 – 33, rue Sainte Zithe, L-2763 Luxembourg" (as stated in the company's terms and conditions). At the time of writing Luxembourg had recently been critisised for offering lower tax rates to multi-national companies.

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