Apple comes clean on use of illegal Bangka tin following Make It Better campaign
Apple’s supplier responsibility report published earlier this week reveals for the first time that it sources tin from almost every smelter in the Indonesian province associated with dangerous illegal mining and environmental destruction.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Julian Kirby said:
“After more than a year-and-a-half of saying ‘no comment’, it’s great that Apple has publicly admitted it uses tin from Indonesia’s Bangka province, where it’s mined at devastating cost to people and the environment.
“Apple has started to recognise that supply chain problems start well before factories – the next step should be extending this scrutiny to other raw materials used in its products and packaging.
“World-leading company Apple recognises the value of transparency to help drive industry-wide improvements – for both brands and people affected by their operations.
“European decision-makers finalising new corporate transparency legislation next week must take heed and make it ambitious enough to ensure all companies report on their human and environmental impact throughout the supply chain.”
Notes to editors
- Apple’s 2014 Supplier Responsibility Report was published this week (12 February 2014).
- Apple’s report includes a list of the 61 smelters from which its suppliers purchase tin, at least 34 of which process tin exclusively from the Bangka province. The Apple roster includes almost every tin smelter operating on the island, according to Bloomberg’s Bangka Island correspondent.
- To help end problems in production, Friends of the Earth is calling for corporate transparency legislation being finalised in Europe next week to require all large companies to report on their full human and environmental impacts - including indirect impacts through suppliers, such as accidents, pollution incidents, greenhouse gas emissions and how much of the world's water, land and raw materials they use. More than 12,000 people have signed a petition calling on UK Business Minister Vince Cable to support this.
- This would ensure companies better understand where the raw materials they use are from, a vital first step towards achieving greater efficiency and tackling problems. This data can help brands to develop better products, such as by working with suppliers to raise standards, redesigning products for easy repair and reuse, reducing demand.
- Last year, Friends of the Earth's Make It Better campaign persuaded leading smartphone makers to admit their phones contain tin linked to the destruction of coral reefs and forests in Indonesia's Bangka islands and to join an industry-wide group committed to ending problems there. Apple refused to publicly admit this, although did join an industry group to tackle the problems.
- Friends of the Earth’s investigation in Bangka found evidence of:
- Dangerous and unregulated tin mining - Police figures show that in 2011 an average of one miner a week died in an accident. Reports of child labour in the unofficial mines are common.
- Coral and sea life threatened - Silt from tin mining is killing coral reefs and seagrass eaten by turtles, driving away fish and ruining fishermen's livelihoods.
- Farmland and forest destroyed - Farmers struggle to grow crops in soil left acidic after the destruction of forests for tin mining.
- Tin is used as solder in electronic devices. There are more than 7,000 tiny but crucial solder points in an iPad, according to Bloomberg.