Apple loses its green sheen

The launch of the iPad 3 tablet overshadowed by reports of human rights and environmental abuses

The iPad 3 is here! If you are reading this on your iPhone while you queue to get yours, there are a few things you should know about your beloved tablet before you invest. Of course we all want to be eco-friendly consumers with a conscious. I mean, no one really wants small children sewing their sweatshirts. So here is the lowdown on the track record of Apple and its iShenanigans.

Human rights abuses

The iPad 3, and other Apple products, are manufactured by industrial giant, Foxconn, whose factory is in Chengdu China. Foxconn factories have been accused of several human rights violations including hiring young children and forced overtime exceeding the 60 hours a week prescribed by Apple. Li Minqi, a former manager at Foxconn had this to say about the company’s policies: “Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost.” In 2010 alone, the Chengdu factory lost 14 workers to suicide, while another 4 attempted suicide by jumping from the factory roof. Poor working conditions, long hours and low pay are touted as the reasons for the high suicide rate. Sadly, the Foxconn factory suicide rate is below the country’s average.

Environmental crimes

The Institute of Public and Environmental affairs in Beijing recently released a report which claimed that the Apple supply chain committed serious environmental crimes. Among reported offenses was the release of hazardous waste containing cyanide, copper and nickel. The report also claimed that the Apple plants released factory emissions that were way above legal limits and contained toxic gases. The report said: “The large volume of discharge in Apple’s supply chain greatly endangers the public’s health and safety.” It’s not the first time that Apple has been accused of human rights abuses and environmental damage. Having posted a $46.1 billion profit in the first quarter of 2012 alone, we hope that they will use their powers for good. Of course, Apple is not the only electronics manufacturer with factories in China, nor is it the only one accused of environmental and human rights abuses, however, it does market itself as a socially and environmentally responsible company; claims called into question by these allegations.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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