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Company Information:

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Owned by:

Apple Inc

Product Score: 8


Category Scores:

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CategoryScoreStories
Environmental Reporting
  • Worst ECRA rating for environmental reporting
  • Worst ECRA rating for environmental reporting


    The environment section of Apple's website was viewed in July 2014. It stated that Apple's carbon emissions came from the manufacturing (70%), transportation (5%), use (22%), and recycling of its products (1.5%). The rest—1.7 percent — comes from its data centres and other facilities. Apple produced Product Environmental Reports for every product it made which looked at the materials and toxics used, its climate change impact, energy efficiency and recycling. As of 2014, 73 per cent of the energy for all its facilities — 86 per cent for its corporate campuses and 100 per cent for its data centres were run on renewable energy. Its target was to use 100% renewable electricity at all Apple facilities. 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). There was third party verification by Bureau Veritas (BV) but only for carbon emissions reporting. Whilst the information in the report covered Apple's main environmental impacts, included conflict minerals, there were no future dated, quantified targets for improvements in its environmental performance, Apple received Ethical Consumer's worst rating in this category.
    Reference:
    Apple Inc Corporate Communications:Supplier Responsibility 2014 Progress Report (February 2014)
Climate Change
  • Greenpeace ranking on energy, products and operations
  • Greenpeace ranking on energy, products and operations


    The latest version of Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics (version 18) was released November 2012. The guide ranked the 16 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TV's and games consoles according to their policies on Energy and Climate, Greener Products, and Sustainable Operations. Apple dropped to 6th position, with a score of 4.6. Though one of the high scorers in this edition, Apple missed out on points for lack of transparency on GHG emission reporting, clean energy advocacy, further information on its management of toxic chemicals, and details on post-consumer recycled plastic use. Apple received half marks in Sustainable Operations. Apple did not score high on the e-waste criteria, losing points for lacking a robust take back programme in India. However it continued to score points for its global take-back programme, reporting that in 2010 global recycling exceeded its 70% goal (as a percentage of sales 7 years ago), a level that it was confident it would maintain through 2015. Apple was a top scorer for policies and practices regarding conflict minerals, but failed in developing a paper procurement policy banning suppliers involved in deforestation and illegal logging. Apple scored poorly on the Energy criteria; though Apple stated that greenhouse (GHG) emissions data of its operations were externally verified, it did not provide details. Apple continued to lose points for not setting a target to reduce emissions. While 13% of Apple’s facility-related electricity consumption came from renewable sources, the company could have increased its score by setting an ambitious goal for boosting its renewable energy use by 2020. Apple was one of the first companies to sell products free of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) and brominated frame retardants (BFRs), but it did not mention plans to phase out antimony or beryllium. Overall, Apple continued to score well on the Products criteria. Apple has received public scrutiny for its decision to glue in batteries in its newest Macbook Pro, which created barriers to easy recycling.
    Reference:
    Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics:Version 18 - November 2012 (12 March 2013)
  • Rating for climate change policy
  • Rating for climate change policy


    Climate Counts is a nonprofit organization launched in collaboration with Clean Air-Cool Planet. The organization annually scores companies on the basis of their voluntary action to reverse climate change. Climate Counts use a 0-to-100 point scale and 22 criteria to determine if companies have: * MEASURED their climate "footprint" * REDUCED their impact on global warming * SUPPORTED (or suggest intent to block) progressive climate legislation * Publicly DISCLOSED their climate actions clearly and comprehensively In 2012, Apple was given a 'striding' rating (second from top rating) and scored 62 out of 100, up 2 points from 2011's rating. Review: 22/22 points. Apple had completed a comprehensive inventory of the impact it had on global warming and that the company expects to continue its review in the future. Reduce: 31/56 points. Apple had established clear goals to reduce the company's greenhouse gas emissions and has initiated projects that have resulted in reductions. Policy Stance: 2/10 points. Apple has distinguished itself by strongly advocating for comprehensive public policy that addresses climate change and would lead to market-wide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the growth of renewable energy capacity. Apple resigned from the US Chamber of Commerce over the trade group's opposition to comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Report: 7/12 points. Apple had made some public information available on its efforts to address global warming.
    Reference:
    Climate Counts - www.climatecounts.org:2012 Scorecard (2012)
Pollution & Toxics
  • Accused of mishandling dangerous chemicals
  • Accused of mishandling dangerous chemicals


    According to an article which appeared on the BBC news website (www.bbc.co.uk) on 1 September 2011, Apple had to defend its environmental record after allegations that some of its suppliers were polluting in China. The technology giant said that it was committed to the highest standard of social responsibility. The comments came after a report by Chinese environmental groups claimed a number of Apple manufacturers were discharging harmful pollutants. The report by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and other non-governmental environment groups also said that one factory in the city of Taiyuan emitted irritating gases and residents had reported difficulty breathing. In response, Apple told a BBC reporter that the company had a tough code of conduct for all its supply firms and it audited many of them. But a company report released earlier in 2011 had reportedly found that dozens of suppliers across the world were mishandling dangerous chemicals. More than 100 workers were contaminated at one Chinese plant. According to the article environmental groups said that Apple was taking advantage of the fact that China didn't have sufficient rules in place to protect the environment.
    Reference:
    BBC News Website www.bbc.co.uk:Apple defends itself after pollution allegations (1 September 2011)
  • Rated for pollution in China
  • Rated for pollution in China


    In April 2010, a coalition (Friends of Nature, Green Beagle and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs) published its 1st. report on water pollution and IT companies in China. The coalition reported on evidence of heavy metal pollution from the IT supply chain and also evidence that the named suppliers who were causing the pollution were supplying well-known IT brands, amongst them Apple. The coalition had presented this evidence to the brands and asked them to take action on the issues. This report listed copper, chromium, nickel, nickel compounds and lead as the pollutants discharged by the IT industry, and also listed many specific incidents of discharges from the named suppliers. Apple were mentioned as one company that "performed negatively" and there were expectations that there would be difficulties for them to make progress "in mending the gaps in their supply chain management."
    Reference:
    Friends of Nature:Green choice consumers urge the IT brands to break their silence (August 2010)
Human Rights
  • Investigated for spying on French Citizens
  • Investigated for spying on French Citizens


    In August 2013 Reuters reported that the prosecutor's office in Paris, France, had launched a preliminary investigation into the U.S. National Security Agency's Prism surveillance program after French rights groups complained it was snooping on citizens' emails and phone calls. The groups filed their complaint against "persons unknown" but named Apple as a potential accomplice of the NSA and FBI.
    Reference:
    Reuters http://today.reuters.com:French prosecutor investigates U.S. Prism spying scheme (11 September 2013)
  • Subsidiaries in oppressive regimes
  • Subsidiaries in oppressive regimes


    The Hoovers Family Tree for Apple Inc, accessed on its website, www.hoovers.com, by Ethical Consumer in July 2014, stated that the company had subsidiaries in the following countries: India, Kazakhstan, China and Thailand. These countries were considered by Ethical Consumer to be oppressive regimes at the time of writing.
    Reference:
    Hoovers 2013:Generic 2013 Hoovers ref (2 January 2013)
  • App removed from istore
  • App removed from istore


    According to the Guardian on September 14th 2011 Apple removed an iPhone game called Phone Story from its App Store. The app took the form of four mini-games about the what the designers say was the "troubling supply chain" behind smartphones. The games satirise key elements of a phones life cycle from coltan extraction in Congo, outsourced labour in China, environmental waste in Pakistan, as well as the mania for gadgets in the West. The game was released by Italian developer Molleindustria, whose mission statement is to "reappropriate video games as a popular form of mass communication" and "investigate the persuasive potentials of the medium by subverting mainstream video gaming cliche". Apple was accused of censorship by the games producers.
    Reference:
    Guardian website www.guardian.co.uk:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/12/thinktanks-crushing-democracy-pr-agenices (13 Ju
Workers' Rights
  • Supplier violates 86+ worker's rights
  • Supplier violates 86+ worker's rights


    The BBC News website, www.bbc.co.uk, was viewed by Ethical Consumer in July 2013. It reported accusations against Apple of violating at least 86 worker's rights within several Chinese factories. These factories were owned by one of the company's suppliers- the Pegatron Group- who assembled iPads and iPhones. According to Chinese Labour Watch, “three factories of Pegatron violated a great number of international and Chinese laws and standards as well as the standards of Apple's own social responsibility code of conduct”. These were said to include under-age labour, contract violations,insufficient wages, abuse by management, poor working conditions and excessive working hours, with an average working week of 66, 67 and 69 hours within the three factories under investigation.
    Reference:
    BBC News Website www.bbc.co.uk:http://www.cityam.com/blog/apple-supplier-china-accused-86-labour-rights-violations (29 July 2013)
  • Supplier of iPad mini criticised for poor workers' rights
  • Supplier of iPad mini criticised for poor workers' rights


    An article in October 2012, published by SACOM called 'iPad Minimizes Labour Rights' stated that Apple supplier, Riteng Computer Accessory Co, Chinese manufacturer of its iPad mini, was implicit in gross and systematic labour abuses. The labour rights organisation conducted off-site interviews with the Riteng workers in October 2012 and found the following major labour rights violations: *Excessive overtime- Workers reported working overtime up to 200 hours per month per person. *Unpaid overtime - Workers estimated up to 20 hours per month were not paid due to being forced to start work early or cutting breaks short. *Abusive use of student workers - Student workers on work experience forced to become frontline production workers. *Cheating on social insurance - SACOM found that the company only to brought insurance for regular workers who had worked in the factory for 6 months. *Exploiting dispatched labour (sub-contracted labourers) - workers reported denial of fundamental rights to have employment contract and social insurance. *Pressuring injured workers - SACOM found that injured workers from an explosion at the factory in December 2011, had been threatened to have their payments stopped if they refused to move to smaller hospitals. A move by the company to prevent injured workers organising themselves. *Hazardous working environment - Workers reported that in the polishing department, the shop floor was filled with dust while the ventilation was poor and the masks used were ineffective in protecting workers. According to SACOM it was not the manufacturers fault for the violations of workers rights but attributed the problems to Apple and its demand for quick turn around and cheaper production costs which forced suppliers to deny workers the right to a safe working environment and the right to earn an adequate wage. SACOM stated that only if workers could form genuine unions to defend their rights, working conditions be improved. It was also said that Apple must raise the unit price and prolong the delivery time, so workers would not need to work excessive overtime to earn a living. Apple should also provide remedies to the workers for its negligence in enforcing labour rights standards.
    Reference:
    SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour) :iPad Mini-mizes Labour Rights (23 October 2012)
  • Poisoned workers demand CEO addresses their concerns
  • Poisoned workers demand CEO addresses their concerns


    Ethical Consumer found a statement on the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour website (SACOM), http://sacom.hk, titled 'Poisoned Workers Demand Steve Jobs Successor to Live Up to CSR', dated August 26th 2011. It said that poisoned workers at an Apple supplier Wintek in Suzhou, China, had been awaiting a response from Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple who resigned the day before without having given a response. The poisoned workers were hoping the new Apple CEO, Tim Cook, would live up to corporate social responsibility commitments and provide them with remedies. SACOM supported the cause of the victims and called on Tim Cook to address the grievances of the poisoned workers and provide remedies for them. A strike erupted at the Taiwanese-owned electronics manufacturer Wintek, which produces touch screens for the iPhone, in early 2010. The rumour of massive poisoning was confirmed by the local authorities after the strike. According to the workers, about 200 of them were poisoned by the chemical called n-hexane which leads to nerve damage. Apple only admitted the gross labour rights violation in its Supplier Responsibility Progress Report one year later. The company stated there were 137 workers hospitalised due to the poisoning and that all of them had been successfully treated. In reality, 2 years on, the workers still felt weak and suffered from symptoms of relapse including sweaty hands and feet, and leg cramps, according to the SACOM statement. Mr. Jia Jing-chuan, a former engineer at Wintek, said that he remained worried about his health. He spent about CNY 500-600 (USD $78-94) for health supplements per month due to feeling weak. Mr. Jia recently resigned from Wintek to take rest in his hometown. The massive poisoning at Wintek was a serious breach of Chinese labour law and Apple’s code of conduct. Corporate social responsibility was no more than rhetoric without remedy to the workers for the code infringement said SACOM which demanded Apple under the leadership of Tim Cook, start a dialogue with the workers as soon as possible.
    Reference:
    SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour) :Poisoned Workers Demand Steve Jobs Successor to Live Up to CSR (26 August 2011)
Supply Chain Management
  • Middle ECRA rating for supply chain management
  • Middle ECRA rating for supply chain management


    The Apple Inc website (www.apple.com/uk/supplier-responsibility), contained a section entitled Supplier Responsibility, when viewed in July 2014. There was also a 2014 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report with the results of the previous year’s audits and corrective actions. The company's Supplier Responsibility Standards was published in full for the first time in 2014, with 100 pages covering 20 key areas. It included clauses on discrimination, working week, child labour and forced labour. It did not include a committment to paying a living wage nor to allow collective bargaining, only as respected by local law. The working week clause stated "Our Supplier Code of Conduct limits working weeks to 60 hours except in unusual circumstances." This was not considered to be an adequate policy as it allowed for working weeks in excess of 60 hours. The Standards applied to Apple suppliers, their subcontractors, and their next-tier suppliers. Apple supplied details about their 18 final assembly facilities and you could download a list of their top 200 suppliers. As only three clauses were met adequately, it was considered to have a poor Supply Chain Policy. The company's Supplier Responsibility 2014 Progress Report included some evidence of stakeholder engagement; it joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in 2012, worked with Enough project, EICC and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative on tin and conflict minerals. Apple was judged to have rudimentary stakeholder engagement as it was not clear whether workers could provide feedback in their own language. The company's Supplier Responsibility 2014 Progress Report provided the results of its 2013 Apple-led audits. It disclosed the results of its audits, in terms of % of compliances. It stated that it audited all final assembly manufacturers annually, and selected component and nonproduction suppliers for audits based on risk factors, such as the prevailing conditions in the country where a supplier facility is located and the supplier’s past audit performance. Repeat audits were performed where non-compliances were found. It listed cases of non-compliance and the remediation plans for these facilities. Apple itself conducted the audits "supported by local third-party auditors who are experts in their fields". "We’ve now conducted audits in 16 countries, and in 2013, our 451 audits covered nearly 1.5 million workers. We audit our final assembly manufacturers every year, and we audit other facilities based on certain risk factors, including location and geographic sensitivities, past audit performance and the nature of the facility’s work. We also perform audits in selected non-production facilities, including call centres and warehouses." Apple was judged to have a good auditing and reporting policy. The Supplier Responsibility section of the company's website discussed one difficult issue in its supply chain - workers having been asked to pay extortionate fees by employment agencies were helped by the company who ordered the monies to be paid back. There was nothing on freedom of Association in China or living wage. Apple was judged to have a rudimentary policy on Difficult Issues.
    Reference:
    Apple Inc Corporate Communications:Supplier Responsibility 2014 Progress Report (February 2014)
Arms & Military Supply
  • Supply to the military
  • Supply to the military


    According to an article on the website of consumer news site Cnet viewed in September 2013, over 41,000 Apple devices were used by the US military. The company website also stated that Apple offered a discount to those serving in the military.
    Reference:
    CNet News:Apple iOS 6 devices get nod for U.S. military use (9 September 2013)
Political Activities
  • Political lobbying in US
  • Political lobbying in US


    In March 2013 the website for the Centre for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org, reported that a total of $1,970,0000 had been spent by Apple Inc on lobbying in 2012. Specific lobbying issues identified included Taxes, Education and Copyright. In the same year the company also spent $620,929 on campaign donations to both Republican and Democrat candidates.
    Reference:
    Centre for Responsive Politics:Lobbying report Apple Inc (2010)
  • Lobbying for tax breaks
  • Lobbying for tax breaks


    According to an article in the Dirt Diggers Digest in 2011 a group of major U.S.based corporations were lobbying for a “repatriation holiday” i.e. so that they would be allowed to bring home many billions of dollars in largely untaxed overseas profits and, for a limited time, pay only a fraction of the statutory rate. This was being done through a corporate front group called Working to Invest Now in America, or WinAmerica. Apple was a part of this group.
    Reference:
    Dirt Diggers Digest newsletter:corporate americas paid holiday (27 June 2011)
  • Member of WBCSD
  • Member of WBCSD


    According to the organisation's website www.wbcsd.org, viewed by Ethical Consumer in July 2014, Apple was a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). This was regarded by Ethical Consumer as an international corporate lobby group which exerted undue corporate influence on policy-makers in favour of market solutions that were potentially detrimental to the environment and human rights.
    Reference:
    World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) www.wbcsd.org:Members list (13 January 2014)
Anti-Social Finance
  • Worst ECRA ranking for likely use of tax avoidance strategies
  • Worst ECRA ranking for likely use of tax avoidance strategies


    In July 2014 Ethical Consumer viewed Apple Inc's SEC filing 10-K exhibit 21.1. The company listed four significant subsidaries registered in Ireland and Nevada - countries not on our list of tax havens or oppressive regimes. Ethical Consumer also viewed the company's family tree on www.hoovers.com and found that the company had subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland. Jurisdictions which were considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens. The companies listed were considered to be low-risk companies due to their company type, however without country by country reporting it was impossible to be certain the company wasn't operating in these territories for tax avoidance purposes. Plus 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.
    Reference:
    Hoovers 2014:Generic 2014 Hoovers Ref (9 April 2014)
  • Fined for infringment of patents
  • Fined for infringment of patents


    In February 2015 the Guardian online reported that Apple had been ordered to pay more than $530m after a federal jury in Texas found its iTunes software infringed three patents owned by a patent licensing company called Smartflash. The jury determined Apple had not only used Smartflash’s patents without permission, but did so wilfully. The patents concerned digital rights management, data storage and payment systems. Apple, which said it would appeal, said the outcome was another reason that reform was needed in the patent system to curb litigation by companies that do not make products themselves. Smartflash sued Apple in May 2013, alleging its iTunes software infringed its patents related to accessing and storing downloaded songs, videos and games. “Smartflash is very happy with the jury’s verdict, which recognises Apple’s longstanding wilful infringement,” said Brad Caldwell, a lawyer for Smartflash. The trial was held in Tyler, Texas, which over the past decade has become a focus for patent litigation. Smartflash’s registered office is also located in Tyler. Apple tried to avoid a trial by having the lawsuit thrown out. However, US district judge Rodney Gilstrap, who presided over the case, ruled earlier this month that Smartflash’s technology was not too basic to deserve the patents. Apple had asked the jury to find Smartflash’s patents invalid because previously patented inventions covered the same technology.
    Reference:
    Guardian, The:Apple ordered to pay $530m for iTunes patents (25 February 2015)
  • Routing sales offshore
  • Routing sales offshore


    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.
    Reference:
    Apple Inc Corporate Communications:iTunes Terms & Conditions (7 July 2014)
Environmental Features (+ve )
  • PVC and BFR
  • PVC and BFR


    According to the Greenpeace Green Gadgets report of September 2014, since 2008 all Apple products are PVC/BFR free including cables. Apple products are also free from phthalates, lead, mercury and arsenic.
    Reference:
    Greenpeace:Green gadgets - Designing the future (September 2014)

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