According to a new Guardian Press report, Green America and China Labor Watch apparently held a "Bad Apple" press conference earlier today in New York to outline what they claim were Apple's failings in electronics manufacturing safety and what could be done about it. It was also to explain how individuals could get involved in "nudging" Apple into adopting safer chemical procedures in its factories.
Kevin Slaten, programme co-ordinator at China Labor Watch told the Guardian that "We are targeting Apple because it has given itself a tremendous amount of responsibility but actions speak louder than words, and it has the potential to drive change because of the sheer size of its manufacturing base in China."
Slaten added that Apple wasn't alone in needing to stop its use of such chemicals, citing other major rivals such as Samsung, Dell, HP and others need to reform.
Pressure groups China Labor Watch and Green America say Apple should stop using harmful chemicals including the solvents n-hexane and benzene in its manufacturing.
Apple's Supplier Responsibility Report does not specifically mention either n-hexane or benzene, but does state that "suppliers shall identify, evaluate, and control worker exposure to hazardous chemical, biological, and physical agents."
Benzene is used as a cleaning and coating agent for electronic components. But it is also a carcinogen which can cause reproductive abnormalities and leukemia.
Slaten and Green American clarified that they weren't calling for a customer boycott of the Apple products and that any reports suggesting that were "misinterpretation."
An Apple spokesman provided the Guardian with the following statement:
"Over the past decade, Apple has led the industry in removing toxics like lead and mercury, brominated flame retardants and PVC from our products, which is good for workers as well as consumers. When it comes to handling chemicals and toxic substances, we require that our suppliers around the world meet or exceed respected US safety standards such as Osha, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Last year, we conducted nearly 200 factory inspections which focused on hazardous chemicals, to make sure those facilities meet our strict standards. We also provide suppliers with training in hazardous chemical management, industrial hygiene and personal protection equipment as part of the Apple Supplier EHS Academy in Suzhou, China."