It should be obvious by now that our Chinese posters are very proud of Foxconn and the fact that practically the entire supply chain of Apple goes through China.
We've been talking about the working conditions in the Foxconn factory which makes iPhones and iPads. However, there's another side to the price
that China is paying for the privilege
of making all the gadgets that we buy at unbeatable China prices
report by a host of organisations - Friends of Nature; Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs; Green Beagle; Envirofriends; and Green Stone Environmental Action Network - looks at the long-term environmental impact that China is willingly absorbing by allowing Apple to almost exclusively source its raw materials and manufacturing out of that country. Before proceeding further it's useful to remember it's not only Apple but almost every damn company has similar set-ups in China and are doing the same thing. So its Apple multiplied several fold
Oh yes before this is dismissed as Western propaganda, this is what the executive summary says:
Faced with an ever evasive Apple, a group of Chinese NGOs decided to dig deeper and carry out further investigations into the environmental problems that exist within Apple’s supply chain. Through five months of research and field investigations we have found that the pollution discharge from this $300 billon dollar company has been expanding and spreading throughout its supply chain, and has been seriously encroaching on local communities and their surrounding environments.
There's too much damning data to post all of it here, so please do take the time to glance through the report. However, here are some random excerpts:
The large volume of discharge in Apple’s supply chain greatly endangers the public’s health and safety. Through the process of our investigations, we discovered several suspected suppliers to Apple that have been the target of numerous complaints from local communities. Located in Kunshan, the two companies Kaedar Electronics and Unimicron Electronics have been subject to repeated complaints from local residents due to their emissions discharge. The residents of this community worry that the
health of their children will be severely damaged. More seriously, a village in the vicinity of the company has experienced a phenomenal rise in cases of cancer.
Foxconn Electronics, located in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, has a huge production capacity and is involved in serious pollution resulting from its metal surface processing. In recent years the local residents have repeatedly filed complaints with local agencies against the Foxconn factory’s irritant gases. These gases often leave the nearby residents with irritated nasal passageways, watering eyes and they sometimes make it hard for residents to open their windows, due to pollution being so intense. The local
government has called on the company to control its pollutant discharge many times, but the pollution that severely affects the quality of life for the residents has yet to be resolved.
Each day, Ibiden Electronics Beijing Company produces several dozen tons of hazardous waste containing heavy metals copper, nickel and cyanide. However, during further checks the environmental agency discovered that even though there are strict national regulations for the hazardous waste transport manifests to be filled out; in this case they were all left blank. After checks, the agency also discovered that the exact whereabouts of the heavy metals sludge was not clear. Moreover, the Shenzhen Municipal Hazardous Waste Treatment Station who are responsible for the treatment of hazardous waste from the electronics industry, including Foxconn’s, was also found to have discharged pollutants against the authorized standards.
From these two investigations, the coalition has discovered more than 27 suspected suppliers to Apple
that have had environmental problems. However, in the ‘2011 Supplier Responsibility Report’ published by Apple Inc., where core violations were discovered from the 36 audits, not a single violation was based on environmental pollution. The public has no way of knowing if Apple is even aware of these problems. Again, the public has no way of knowing if Apple has pushed their suppliers to resolve these issues.
For this kind of company to have passed an audit led by Apple’s Vice-President and then go on to win the main contracts for Apple’s global iPad market, it must surely leave one to question Apple’s auditing process. However, there has been no way to confirm any of these queries with Apple Inc., as the company will not actively disclose any information, nor will it even passively respond to questions
regarding their suppliers. Under the cover of Apple’s annual auditing report, the company continues to issue contracts to polluting companies for its OEM production, so as to pursue blood stained profits at the cost of the environment and communities.
The Chinese government is known to be tough on foreign companies. In exchange for access to its huge market it has demanded and gotten things like:
a) Access to valuable IP;
b) Forced JVs in which the local partner invariably steels the IP and sets up a rival company (remember Cisco, Huawei and 2 million lines of code?);
c) Gets companies to invest in things like R&D centres; plus a number of other things.
Now China is a lucrative market for Apple, can't the Chinese govt arm twist to Apple to clean up its act? Or is it that the Govt is shit scared that Apple would just pack up its bags and leave?
In a previous post I highlighted the comments sections to a NYT video on the Foxconn situation. Let me post it again:
At January 28, 2012 7:48 pm
Is Apple willing to pay $10 more for each device FoxConn made for it? It would just $500m (about 50 millions iPhones and iPads). That is only a small dent in Apple last quarter revenue (out of some 46.3 billion dollars).
But Apple wouldn’t. You are in this absurd, hypocritical situation that companies like Apples try to squeeze every single drop of profits from China based manufacturers while blaming them for abuses.
Such is the Americans. We care more about our cats and dogs than people in Africa.
At January 28, 2012 9:44 pm
That’s why Apple is hoarding tremendous amount of cash because Apple’s model is not sustainable. When you have lot of cash you can take up and run away as fast as you can when you are deep in trouble.
At January 29, 2012 9:34 am
I noticed that in the office where the interview is is being conducted there are wall clocks to be seen from every angle.
The difference in china is that the wall clocks are replaced by widgets per hour. Time pressure is experienced by both work places. Try working in your office without a clock; it will make you even more stressed.
It seems that cheap labor in developing economies has been the substitute for slavery in our society. Eventually we will have to go elsewhere for our slaves.
The last two bolded quotes are IMO very relevant in this case. Who is manipulating whom?
I've been talking about the "costs" associated with this helter skelter grow at any cost attitude of CPC. The environment is just another aspect of this "cost".
So while folks like Wrdos sleep happily with the idea of the poor Foxconn factory line worker sleeping in an airconditioned room the country's environment is being raped.
Remember that old hackneyed saying? Nero fiddling his harp as Rome was burning?