Electronics Industry

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Last updated: October 2016


Electronics Industry


The electronics industry is notorious for low wages, excessive overtime, exploitation of migrant and student workers, and crucially, a lack of the ‘freedom of association’ workers need to be able to improve their conditions.

Image: Mobile phones


There are also multiple issues around mining for materials used; hazardous chemicals leading to deadly health problems and pollution; electronic waste and energy use. The speed at which the electronics market has grown, and the culture of frequent upgrades, just increases the strain.


Conflict minerals 


Campaigners have long identified revenue from the sale of mined elements as a key driver of civil wars and conflict in Southern countries.

We look at what’s happened since the landmark piece of US legislation that was passed in 2010 to disrupt the trade in ‘conflict minerals’ from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act.

We rate all the companies on how they make sure that their minerals are from conflict-free sources in the DRC. Crucially, companies must remain committed to sourcing minerals from the region. See our feature on conflict minerals for more information on the current situation in the DRC. A section is included in each guide detailing how the companies rate for each product we have covered. 


Conflict Minerals

Image: Conflict Minerals

Update on the Dodd-Frank Act

Are companies making progress in improving their sourcing of conflict-free materials?

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Toxic chemicals

Three chemicals are often used in electronics and have been highlighted by Greenpeace as the most hazardous – brominated flame retardants (BFRs), PVC and phthalates. We rate all companies in the Pollution & Toxics category for their use of these three chemicals. Plus, we have given extra points to any models that are free from these toxic chemicals. 

Apple leads the way in the electronics industry having phased out PVC and BFR in its products, including its cables, way back in 2008. Apple products are also free from phthalates. So there is no excuse for other companies not to follow suit.

To get our best rating for a toxic chemicals policy, like Apple, a company must have phased out the use of all three chemicals or have set a date by which it will have done so. 

Corporate Watch

Image: apple mac

Where did all the tax go?

Apple is the most profitable company in the world. However, it has been accused of increasingly aggressive tax avoidance for a decade. We take a look at the ethics of the corporate tech giant. 

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Cobalt Mining

Cobalt Mining

Human Rights Abuses in Cobalt Mines

Amnesty International's investigation has uncovered a number of abuses in cobalt mines. These include forced relocations of villages, water pollution and child labour. 

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