Supplier Responsibility

A supply chain that empowers people and protects the planet.

We hold ourselves and our suppliers to the highest standard when it comes to human rights, environmental protections and responsible business practices in our supply chain. Together with our partners, we go above and beyond accepted industry practices to improve the lives of our suppliers’ employees while conserving the earth’s resources for generations to come. And we share our vision, processes and results openly — because we believe transparency keeps us accountable to ourselves and the world, while allowing others to learn and benefit from our experience.

View the 2018 Progress Report (PDF)

We set a high standard for fair work. Then raise it.

The Apple Supplier Code of Conduct details protections for our suppliers’ employees, including proper living conditions, fair working hours and workplace safety. Suppliers are required to inform their employees about these protections when they are hired, and employees are guaranteed safe, anonymous channels to voice concerns if they arise. The Code’s policies and standards apply to our partners at all levels, from material sourcing all the way to manufacturing, and are expected to be upheld even when they exceed local, regional and national laws. In addition to these core protections, we’ve taken further steps, implementing programmes designed to educate and provide opportunities for career advancement.

3M+people in our supply chain were trained on workplace protections in 2017.
14.7Msupplier employees have been trained on workplace protections since 2007.

Empowering women through health education.

Beyond ensuring a safe and healthy workplace, we believe that all employees in our supply chain should have the opportunity to learn more about personal wellness and preventive healthcare. In 2017, we introduced a special health programme for women with suppliers in India and China. The programme focuses on women because they have an outsized impact on their families and communities, and because women are often underserved. In the programme, participants learn about nutritional, maternal and preventive healthcare, and are encouraged to share what they learn with their co-workers, families and friends.

I feel happier and healthier since I began participating in the programme. I’ve been able to share my learning with friends and family, which gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Zhangjing, Women’s health programme participant

The opportunities of tomorrow start with training today.

Together with our partners, we’re doing more than providing the people in our supply chain with a fair workplace. Since 2008, Apple has created education programmes dedicated to advancing the careers of our suppliers’ employees. The SEED (Supplier Employee Education and Development) programme helps current employees study fields in which they’re most interested. Since its inception, 2.5 million people have participated and more than 12,000 have enrolled for a degree. We also created the Factory Line Leader Programme with a leading university in China. It provides vocational training — the technical and soft skills necessary to become qualified line leaders — to students who might otherwise be limited to entry-level positions. Graduates are guaranteed an internship with an Apple supplier and full-time employment opportunities.

Digging deep to ensure that materials are responsibly sourced.

We’re proud to be recognised as a global leader in the responsible sourcing of minerals in our products. In 2010, we were the first company to map our supply chain from manufacturing to the smelter level for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG). We were also the first company to publish a list of the smelters in our supply chain. In 2014, we started mapping for cobalt and completed that mapping in 2016. In 2017, for the second year in a row, 100 per cent of our identified 3TG and cobalt smelters participated in a third-party assessment programme. We do this to make sure minerals in our products are responsibly sourced following standards set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other internationally recognised human rights instruments. Our efforts consider conflict, human rights and other risks as we go above and beyond what’s required by law.

The Enough Project ranked Apple number one worldwide across all sectors in recognition of our efforts to develop conflict-free mineral supply chains in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mapping materials from final assembly back to the source.

Few companies map the path of materials in their products as far back as the smelter. Apple maps many materials, including conflict minerals, back to the smelter and goes even further with others — tracking some, like cobalt, all the way back to the source.

  1. Step 1: Final Assembly
  2. Step 2: Manufacturing
  3. Step 3: Smelting/Refining
  4. Step 4: Trading
  5. Step 5: Material Sourcing

Going further to fight bonded labour.

Bonded labour occurs when a person is forced to work in exchange for the repayment of a debt or other obligation — sometimes levied as a fee for receiving a job in the first place. In 2008, we made this a Core Violation of the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct and limited permissible fees to one month’s wages. In 2015, Apple went even further — leading the way by mandating that no fees can be charged to supplier employees for recruitment opportunities, even if those fees fall within the legal limits of the supplier’s operating country. If bonded labour is discovered, the supplier is required to repay the recruitment fees in full to all affected employees. We ensure safe channels for employees and suppliers to communicate concerns, and we continue to be recognised as a leader among all industries in efforts to eliminate this vicious practice.

If bonded labour is uncovered, immediate action is taken:

  1. Step 1: Probation Notice

    A Notice of Probation is sent to the violating supplier with terms of reimbursement and a non-retaliation clause to protect employees.

  2. Step 2: Repayment Deadline

    The notice requires suppliers to repay employees who paid unwarranted fees within 30 days or face losing Apple’s business.

  3. Step 3: Reimbursement Paid

    Each affected employee’s reimbursement is approved by Apple and paid by the supplier. Since 2008, more than $30 million has been distributed to remedy violations.

  4. Step 4: Payment Confirmed

    An independent auditor confirms that each individual received repayment. Over 10 years, approximately 35,000 individuals have been repaid. In 2017, 1,560 cases were discovered and remediated.

When we waste nothing, that will truly be something.

By diverting manufacturing waste from landfill, we are reducing impacts on the environment and safeguarding the communities where our products are made. Our Zero Waste Programme is a partnership with suppliers who join us in protecting the environment. To achieve a Zero Waste to Landfill certification through Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a factory must divert 100 per cent of its waste from landfill, with a maximum of 10 per cent being sent to waste-to-energy facilities. In 2017, 100 per cent of our final assembly facilities for iPhone were zero waste certified. To help all our suppliers achieve this objective, we offer tools and guidance, including the services of leading experts in sustainable waste management solutions.

All final assembly facilities for iPhone are now zero waste certified worldwide.
625KSince 2015, 625,000 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfill — enough to cover 2,545 football fields 1 metre deep.

Moving towards our goal of zero waste.

Reducing waste means reimagining traditional manufacturing processes. One way we do this is by helping suppliers pivot away from virgin material and towards reused and recycled materials. In fact, one of our manufacturers is now implementing an innovative process that recycles part of the film that protects iPhone screens as they are made. Previously, that material went to landfill. Now it is recycled to make the trays that transport products later in their production. This reduces waste, transport costs and our carbon footprint. And every year it will divert approximately 200 tonnes of rubbish from landfill.

Turning the film that protects iPhone screens into trays.

  1. Step 1

    A protective film and liner used to protect iPhone screens during manufacturing are no longer needed.

  2. Step 2

    The protective film and liner are separated. One is recycled and the other is used for energy recovery.

  3. Step 3

    The recycled piece is turned into trays for use in production.

  4. Step 4

    The trays are used to hold iPhone devices in a later phase of their production.

The magic of making more with less.

Constantly finding new ways to conserve natural resources and use less energy is a crucial part of our manufacturing process. We’re partnering with suppliers to generate and procure more than 4 gigawatts of new clean power worldwide by 2020 to reduce emissions from manufacturing. In 2018, all our suppliers are required to set carbon reduction goals. We also created a Clean Water Programme that encourages factories to find ways to conserve freshwater and reuse wastewater. As a result, participating factories in China have achieved an average reuse rate of 37 per cent, exceeding the industry average of 30 per cent.

For the fourth consecutive year, Apple received the top score on the Corporate Information Transparency Index from the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Chinese non-governmental organisation.
51.5BWater use in our supply chain has been reduced by 51.5 billion litres since 2013 — enough to fill more than 20,592 Olympic-size swimming pools.
37%In 2017, we achieved a 37 per cent average wastewater reuse rate at participating factories in China.
106In 2017, we added 14 new suppliers to our Clean Water Programme, bringing the total number of supplier facilities to 106.

Our efforts are just the beginning.

Together with our suppliers, we made a great deal of progress in 2017. As we drive deeper into our supply chain to assess where improvements can be made and harness the power of innovation to apply new tools and processes, we know we will be able to do even more for people and for the planet. Every year, our work affects a growing number of suppliers and employees across the globe — and we believe our work is having a positive effect on the industry as a whole.

More sites assessed, more top performers.

Every year, Apple assesses more partners in our supply chain. In 2017, we evaluated 756 supplier sites in 30 countries. Each site is ranked low-, medium- or high-performing against the industry’s most rigorous set of standards. We work closely with low performers to accelerate development of their capabilities, but if a supplier is unwilling or unable to meet our standards, we remove them from our supply chain. Thanks to the combined efforts of Apple and our partners, we saw a 71 per cent decrease in the number of low performers, and a 35 per cent increase in the number of high performers.

35%In 2017, the number of high performers in our supply chain increased by 35 per cent.
71%In 2017, the number of low performers in our supply chain decreased by 71 per cent.

In 2017, assessments were conducted at 756 manufacturing, contact centre and retail sites. An additional 256 assessments occurred at smelter- and mine-level sites.

To see how far we’ve come, read the full report.

View the 2018 Progress Report (PDF)