Supplier Responsibility

The highest standards apply at every level.

At Apple, people are at the heart of everything we do and everything we make. That means considering not only those who will use a product, but also those who help build it. So we hold ourselves and our suppliers to the highest standards, to protect the people in our supply chain and the planet we all call home. Our Supplier Code of Conduct is designed to uphold that commitment. From the sourcing of materials to the recycling of our products, we work with suppliers to ensure that our requirements are being met.

Our commitment is more than a promise. It’s action.

Final product inspection, Vietnam

Living up to our highest ideals takes the same hard work and innovative spirit we devote to our products. Labour, human rights and environmental protections are the foundation of our Supplier Code of Conduct. And we go further to empower the people in our supply chain and to leave the world better than we found it — all while working with partners to get us there faster.

A safe and respectful workplace for everyone.

Workplace rights are human rights. We require suppliers to provide fair working hours, a safe work site and an environment free from discrimination. These protections apply across the supply chain, regardless of a person’s job or location.

Supplier employees get trained on their rights before getting started.

Supplier employees get trained on their rights before getting started.

Protection begins with rights awareness. We require all suppliers to make their employees aware of their workplace rights during orientation. Employees are strongly encouraged to speak up through anonymous channels if they feel those rights are threatened. And we have zero tolerance for retaliation if an employee chooses to raise concerns.

Though suppliers are required to provide anonymous grievance channels for their workforce, Apple is always asking supplier employees for direct feedback. In 2019, we partnered with workplace rights experts to measure supplier employees’ general satisfaction at work, the extent to which they felt their workplace rights were respected, management’s responsiveness to grievances, and their opinions of workplace conditions and amenities such as food service. The feedback gathered through these voluntary and anonymous surveys directly informed improvements to supplier facilities, such as better food service and more comprehensive new employee orientation.

19.4M+ supplier employees trained on their rights since 2008
42,885 supplier employees participated in workplace satisfaction surveys

Workplace safety is part of our design process.

Workplace safety is part of our design process.

Everyone has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. Suppliers must provide appropriate protective equipment and training to manage risks on the job. Our safety reviews start before machines are ever turned on, and we work alongside the engineers developing manufacturing techniques to make sure new processes are safe.

The responsible use of chemicals is equally important. Some chemicals we strictly prohibit. When chemicals are used, we require specific safety measures to protect the health of supplier employees. And we’re always working to help suppliers adopt even safer, greener alternatives.

A+ For the second year in a row, Apple was awarded an A+ rating for eliminating toxic chemicals by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families as part of its Mind the Store ranking.

We support those who support their communities.

We support those who support their communities.

Our strict standards apply at all levels. Because our supply chain is global, so is our responsibility. We believe that empowering local, independent voices is critical to protecting people and the planet. So we collaborate with experts who best understand the challenges and opportunities in their communities, while contributing our learnings and experiences in the management of complex supply chains.

Since 2017, we’ve partnered with the Fund for Global Human Rights to support grassroots activists, such as human rights defenders and environmental advocates. Their work touches over 25 countries and, with Apple’s support, the Fund has trained local groups in organisational management, capacity building and advocacy. And in 2019, we expanded our partnership with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, an international organisation focused on bringing awareness to human rights issues.

Stopping debt-bonded labour before it can happen.

Stopping debt-bonded labour before it can happen.

No one should pay to work. Of the millions of people in our supply chain, a small percentage are those who leave their home countries to work abroad. This can make them vulnerable to debt-bonded labour, which occurs when a person works in exchange for repayment of a debt, such as a recruitment fee. We don’t allow this and have zero tolerance for debt-bonded labour in any form.

If we discover debt-bonded labour, the supplier must take immediate action or risk removal from our supply chain. The supplier must also repay any recruitment fees in full directly to the employee.

In 2019, we worked with suppliers, their labour agents and supply chain employees to create a responsible recruitment toolkit. It’s designed to ensure that everyone involved follows recruitment practices that meet our strict standards. We also strengthened the rights training that supplier employees receive when they leave their home countries, so they’re better prepared for their new jobs.

1 case of debt-bonded labour identified in 2019
US$1.3M in recruitment fees repaid to 462 supplier employees in 2019
US$32.3M in recruitment fees repaid to 36,599 employees by suppliers since 2008

Educational programmes built with the same passion as our products.

At Apple, we’ve always believed that education is a great equalising force. We’ve provided education and training to more than 4 million supplier employees since 2008. These programmes are designed to help people explore new opportunities and acquire in-demand skills — even people who are never directly involved in building an Apple product.

Wellness training
for more supplier employees.

Wellness training for more supplier employees.

Partnering with local experts, we create customised education programmes to help supplier employees live healthier lives inside and outside the workplace. Participants gain a deeper awareness of their personal well-being and skills to better manage their health — knowledge they can share with their communities.

Our health education programmes in China, India and Vietnam provide training in topics such as nutrition, self-examination for early breast cancer detection, and maternal health. We’ve also made basic wellness training part of our supplier new employee orientation, with over 840,000 people participating in 2019 alone.

Tomorrow’s workforce needs the skills we help people build today.

Tomorrow’s workforce needs the skills we help people build today.

We’re working with suppliers to equip their employees with advanced skills for smart manufacturing. In 2019, we continued to focus on four key areas for vocational certification: iPhone repair, computerised numerical control (CNC) technology, robotics and electrician services. In addition to technical skill development, we’re helping more supplier employees build the leadership skills necessary to become qualified production line supervisors.

We recently launched a programme to help supplier employees in the United States acquire sought-after skills. Employees have the opportunity to choose courses from topics including presentation skills, business writing, design thinking and project management.

4M people have participated in the Supplier Employee Education and Development (SEED) programme since 2008

Extending opportunities to those at the furthest reaches of our supply chain.

Extending opportunities to those at the furthest reaches of our supply chain.

We continue to expand our educational programmes to more people — including those who live in communities where some of our suppliers source their materials.

We know that vocational training should be tailored to meet the needs of the community where it’s offered. That’s why we partnered with Pact, an international development organisation with experience in over 40 countries, to help provide young people with the skills and tools they need to learn a trade or craft. Programme participants can explore a range of opportunities and apprentice with an expert in their chosen field. Graduates have gone on to work as hairdressers, tailors, welders and mechanics.

From personal development to app development.

From personal development to app development.

We believe that everyone can learn to code. It’s also one of the most in-demand skills for our suppliers and their employees. We began offering training in Swift, the Apple-designed coding language, to supply chain employees in 2018.

In 2019, we expanded the programme to allow even more people to participate. We brought in Apple Retail creatives — who host Today at Apple workshops in our retail stores — to train supplier employees in the basics of Swift and app development. Coding education also reinforces critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, giving students new ways to approach challenges in their work environment. And programme graduates are creating apps directly relevant to their jobs, from apps that improve workflows to those that make facility administration smoother.

50% of participants had minimal or no coding experience before the Swift programme

A global supply chain that works to protect the planet.

As we design, build and recycle our products, we feel a profound responsibility to protect the Earth. Every year, we deepen our partnerships with suppliers to conserve more energy and water, eliminate waste and become better stewards of natural resources. In 2019 alone, we helped suppliers prevent over 1 million metric tons of emissions through energy efficiency and emissions controls. And as we develop innovative ways to reduce our impact, we share them openly so others can reduce theirs.

Innovative partnerships bring us closer to zero waste.

Innovative partnerships bring us closer to zero waste.

The goal of our Zero Waste Programme is to completely eliminate waste, sending nothing to landfill in the communities where our products are made. Today, all final assembly facilities for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod and Apple TV are independently certified as Zero Waste to Landfill.

If a material or process required to achieve zero waste doesn’t exist yet, we create one. For example, product components need a protective film as they’re transported throughout the manufacturing process. So we partnered with a supplier to design a film that can be recycled. After the film is used the first time, it’s turned into transportation trays, avoiding waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill or be incinerated. And the material is now available to the entire industry.

1.3M metric tons of waste diverted from landfill since 2015, equivalent to 100,000 full rubbish trucks
155 supplier sites now participating in the Zero Waste Programme

A community effort to conserve and protect water.

A community effort to conserve and protect water.

Water is a precious resource — and in many parts of the world, a scarce one. In addition to conserving fresh water, we’re helping suppliers become stewards of water to safeguard this critical natural resource.

In 2019, three Apple supplier sites became the first electronics companies in the world to earn platinum certification from the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS). This global programme fosters collaboration between businesses, governments and civil society, offering a framework and standard for water stewardship. Through earning AWS certification, a supplier is not only learning to protect shared water resources, but also improving relationships within the local community.

35.2B litres of water conserved in 2019 — enough drinking water for 48M+ people for a year
40% water reuse rate in 2019

Big strides for a smaller carbon footprint.

Big strides for a smaller carbon footprint.

We continue our efforts to address climate change. In 2019, we helped our suppliers prevent more than 1 million annualised metric tons of energy-related and direct greenhouse gas emissions. That’s like taking 220,876 cars off the road for a year. And the majority of facilities that perform final assembly of iPhone have committed to an aggressive 20 per cent reduction of energy use by the end of 2020.

In October 2019, China’s leading environmental advocacy organisation recognised Apple as the first to achieve its Master’s level in the Corporate Information Transparency Index for pushing hundreds of suppliers to improve their environmental performance. Through sharing best practices learnt from our innovative water, energy and zero waste programmes, we will continue to accelerate progress in our own supply chain and across the industry.

1M+ annualised metric tons of energy-related and direct greenhouse gas emissions prevented in 2019 — equivalent to taking 220,876 cars off the road for a year
92 suppliers participated in the Energy Efficiency Programme in 2019

What a device is made of is as important as what it does.

What a device is made of is as important as what it does.

Apple products contain many materials. As we work towards our ultimate goal of a closed loop — using only recycled and renewable content — we set strict supplier standards to ensure that materials are sourced responsibly. We look at the deepest levels of our supply chain, including the places where minerals come from, to understand human rights and environmental risks so we can better address them. Apple was among the first companies to map its supply chain at these levels, tracing certain minerals all the way to their smelters and refiners. We also publish a list of these mineral processors for full transparency. And 100 per cent of the smelters and refiners listed participate in third-party audits.

We’re also seeking out innovative ways to source minerals and end our reliance on mining altogether. In 2017, we formed the Salmon Gold partnership with Tiffany & Co. and RESOLVE, a non-profit sustainability organisation. The Salmon Gold project developed a way to extract gold from abandoned mine sites in remote regions of Alaska and the Yukon, while consulting with the indigenous community to help restore streams that native salmon depend on. Gold that enters Apple’s supply chain through this project is tracked using blockchain technology. And the knowledge gained from this effort will be shared and applied to other materials supply chains.

The work we do is made for sharing.

Rear housing unit inspection, iPhone production, China

The requirements we set and the programmes we create have had a measurable impact on the people and communities touched by our supply chain. But we know our work will never be done. We’re always listening, learning and challenging ourselves to do better. And we’ll continue to share our best thinking with others — forging solutions together so everyone can achieve progress more rapidly.

Progress by the numbers.

Supplier performance is scored according to a rigorous assessment process in the areas of labour and human rights, health and safety, and environment. In 2019, assessments were conducted at 801 manufacturing facilities and logistics, repair and contact centres, along with 50 assessments in other parts of our services supply chain. An additional 291 assessments occurred at smelter- and refiner-level sites. And year after year, we see constant improvement.

  • 2019 82% High performers
  • 2019 17% Medium performers
  • 2019 <1% Low performers
  • 2018 76% High performers
  • 2018 24% Medium performers
  • 2018 1% Low performers
  • 2017 59% High performers
  • 2017 40% Medium performers
  • 2017 1% Low performers
  • 2016 47% High performers
  • 2016 50% Medium performers
  • 2016 3% Low performers
  • 2015 36% High performers
  • 2015 58% Medium performers
  • 2015 6% Low performers
  • 2014 26% High performers
  • 2014 60% Medium performers
  • 2014 14% Low performers

Learn more about our work in the full report.

Additional Reports

Apple Requirements
Apple Suppliers
Reports and Filings

More from Apple on supplier responsibility.

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