The Institute of Environmental and Public Health, a Beijing non-profit, has listed Apple as the lowest ranked of the 29 companies it surveyed for issues of responsiveness and transparency of health and environmental concerns in China.
Now it’s hard to say what kind of methodology was used by this group, particularly given what I assume is the hostility of the Chinese government to publicizing this information. Apple’s defenders will say it is being picked on because of its visibility. And possibly this there is some truth to this, not in the big picture but in relation to other corporations. The real issue here is that measuring these factors is nearly impossible because of the complete lack of transparency within supplier companies. That is the responsibility of multinational corporations and governments. Apple, Wal-Mart, and whoever else use contracted suppliers in part to save costs, but also to shield themselves from blame when workers get sick or die or when the factories pollute an entire ecosystem. And yet they are at least as morally and materially guilty as the supply companies since they demand the goods at extremely low prices. Apple could easily step up to the plate, reveal all its suppliers, investigate conditions, ensure healthful workplaces and dignified wages. But then its top executives might have to give up that ivory backscratcher they wanted for Christmas.
You can download the full report on the linked website, but it is in Chinese.