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 2016. 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.
Apple's latest Environmental Responsibility Report was dated 2016. It included sections on the company's main environmental impacts - climate change, waste, toxics and water. It reported that 93% of its facilities worldwide ran on 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 2016 every Apple store worldwide took back Apple products for recycling.
There was third party verification by Bureau Veritas (BV) and of product related carbon footprint by Fraunhofer.
In 2016 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 www.hoovers.com and showed that the company had subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Luxembourg, and Singapore.
These were jurisdictions which were considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens. 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.
In December 2015, the BBC news website reported that Apple's Italian subsidiary had agreed to pay €318m following an investigation into tax fraud allegations. Italy's tax authorities said that the company had failed to pay €880m in tax between 2008 and 2013.