Completed more than 520 site profile surveys to help determine environmental risks.
Conducted 62 focused environmental assessments.
Launched the Clean Water Programme pilot with 13 supplier sites to increase reuse and recycling.
Our commitment to environmental responsibility extends deep into our supply chain. Even when local regulations are less stringent than our Supplier Code of Conduct, we expect our suppliers to go above and beyond the law to protect their local communities and minimise impact to the environment. Suppliers must uphold all our environmental standards — including hazardous waste management, wastewater management, stormwater management, air emissions management and boundary noise management — wherever Apple products are made.
We look for environmental risks through a variety of methods, including onsite compliance audits, environmental profile surveys, NGO partnerships and resources like the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) water and air pollution database. We completed more than 520 environmental profile surveys in 2013, focusing on our top 200 suppliers. The survey data allows us to determine risks by commodity, and it enables us to build targeted training, tools and programmes to minimise our suppliers’ environmental impact.
Once we identify risks or problems, we conduct a further in-depth environmental assessment. In 2013, we conducted 62 assessments, which consisted of analysing historical issues, taking environmental samples of things like discharge water and sediment, gathering information and uncovering violations of Apple’s Code of Conduct. We take any findings and violations through our corrective action process, then verify them for remediation by third-party auditors and as needed by environmental NGOs in China.
Fresh water is a precious resource, and it is everyone’s responsibility to preserve and limit its use. Some manufacturing processes within Apple’s supply chain use larger amounts of water than others. To make sure our suppliers are part of the solution to preserve this resource, Apple instituted the Clean Water Programme to help reduce water usage, promote water recycling and prevent illegal water pollution within our supply chain.
We targeted suppliers that are manufacturing product parts known to consume larger amounts of water. These included suppliers of printed circuit boards (PCBs), enclosures, cover glass, packaging, printing and some electrical board suppliers. Thirteen water-intensive sites — which collectively consume more than 41 million cubic metres of water per year — became the pilot facilities for our Clean Water Programme in 2013.
This programme goes beyond simply ensuring compliance and checking for accurate permits. We start with a complete process map of the facility’s hazardous chemicals use and process waste streams. The supplier’s existing reuse and recycling programmes are just one of many things we analyse. We also evaluate the entire wastewater treatment process along with its efficiency and performance relative to the type of manufacturing. And we make sure it can handle the facility’s capacity for treating generated process wastewater. We measure water input and output and sample water throughout the facility’s treatment process up to the final discharge point. We also consider local water risks like continual access to daily production needs while minimising impact to the local community, whose neighbours rely on this resource.
After our in-depth evaluation, we score the supplier on categories including water usage; wastewater management; wastewater treatment facility operation, maintenance, performance and monitoring; stormwater management; and hazardous waste management. Depending on improvement needs, we give the supplier specific remediation actions to work on with our team and third-party technical consultants.
In 2014, we’ll apply the findings and best practices from this pilot programme to other suppliers with water-intensive production processes.