In fact, Apple decided to order its suppliers to stop using benzene and n-hexane during the final assembly of iPhones, iPads, iPods, Mac computers and various accessories. Apple is also requiring all its factories to test all substances to ensure that they don't contain benzene or n-hexane, even if the chemicals aren't listed in the ingredients.
"This is doing everything we can think of … to crack down on chemical exposures and to be responsive to concerns," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environmental initiatives, quoted in the South China Morning Post.
"We think it's really important that we show some leadership and really look towards the future by trying to use greener chemistries."
|Apple restricts SVHCs|
Two NGOs have spoken loudly about Apple's lax approach to toxic and unnecessary chemicals in their manufacturing. Green America and China Labor Watch have been front and center. Both have been asking Apple to be more proactive about cleaning the supply chain.
Hundreds of Apple suppliers will need to be brought into compliance.
Apple is the most cash-rich company in the known universe, according to latest rankings. And they often rank in the top three, usually number one, in Gartner's annual ranking of supply chains. In fact, you'll recall from this blog that last May Apple was ranked #1 by Gartner.
So, the question is, if Apple finally spends some money on tidying up the environmental, health and safety of its supply chain operations in Asia, including restricting the use of known substances of concern such as benzene, will it still be #1 in these rankings?
Apple core customer
Once again, it's always surprising that Apple has such a distracted worker safety record and product stewardship approach. Especially given the demographic of Apple's faithful followers. You'd expect people with such progressive taste in eye-wear to be more concerned with safe manufacturing and cradle-to-cradle policies.
So far though, the Apple core consumers haven't seeded much in terms of stewardship initiatives. Being a hipster – or a baby boomer – is busy business, it seems, and on the whole there appears to be more interest in whether a gadget takes good selfies.
Looks like it's time for Applers turn the lens a little more outward. Bravo. I wish my concern was all for the environment and for worker safety, but my enthusiasm is largely towards a more level playing field. We all know that the reason so many companies like Apple outsource to China isn't just the proverbial cheap labor. It's the less complex regulatory field.
And while I think it's fair for a business to seek profits for its stakeholders, outsourcing to China largely so that your company can continue to turn a blind eye to uses of known chemicals of high concern like benzene and TCE is really just bad practice.
I'm still optimistic about the self-regulation of industry. Call me old fashioned.
An A for this effort, Apple.