Apple released its annual supplier responsibility report Thursday, drawing praise from Greenpeace for steps the company has taken to reduce use of conflict minerals in its products.
“Apple’s increased transparency about its suppliers is becoming a hallmark of Tim Cook’s leadership at the company,” said Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Tom Dowdall in a statement. “Apple has flexed its muscles in the past to push suppliers to remove hazardous substances from products and provide more renewable energy for data centers, and it is proving the same model can work to reduce the use of conflict minerals.”
Apple’s report says audits of its supply chain found that the company’s suppliers did not use tantalum from areas at war.
Tantalum is a metal used in a wide range of electronics. In recent years, activists have highlighted the fact that in places such as Democratic Republic of Congo, warlords are profiting from sales of such minerals as tantalum.
“The ethical sourcing of minerals is an important part of our mission to ensure safe and fair working conditions,” Apple says in the report. “In January 2014 we confirmed that all active, identified tantalum smelters in our supply chain were verified as conflict-free by third-party auditors, and we’re pushing our suppliers of tin, tungsten, and gold just as hard to use verified sources.”
The issue of conflict minerals has begun to get more attention from the consumer electronics industry. Earlier this year, Intel announced that its products would be entirely free of conflict minerals.
Greenpeace renewed its call for other tech companies to follow suit.
“Samsung and other consumer electronics companies should follow Apple’s example and map its suppliers, so the industry can exert its collective influence to build devices that are better for people and the planet,” Dowdall said.
In other areas covered by the report, Apple said it was making progress toward improving working, safety and health conditions for the employees of the third-party manufacturers that are part of the company’s vast supply chain.
For instance, Apple said suppliers reached 95% compliance with a 60-hour work week, up from 92% the year before. The company also highlighted its efforts to help workers learn new skills and better understand their rights.
The report is part of a effort by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook to provide more transparency into the company’s supply chain following reports of child labor violations, health hazards and some suicides at factories that make the company’s products.
Before becoming CEO, Cook oversaw the creation of Apple’s massive international supply chain and manufacturing system.
Two years ago, Apple began releasing a detailed list of major suppliers and agreed to third-party audits of its supply chain.