China investigating IT suppliers linked with Apple for polluting rivers

Environment groups released a report critical of the suppliers last week

Local authorities in China are investigating two electronics suppliers linked with Apple and also reportedly HTC of dumping heavy metals in the country's rivers after watchdog groups accused them of damaging the environment.

Last week, five Chinese environmental groups issued a report claiming that factories of Foxconn Technology Group and Unimicron Technology had been polluting rivers in the country's Taihu basin, where the cities of Shanghai and Kunshan are located.

The groups claimed the factories from the two suppliers had dumped large amounts of nickel and copper that had been poisoning the nearby water and soil, and threatening the health of local residents. At the Foxconn facilities, the water was described as black, and carrying an "awful stench". The affected soil had become yellow and red in color, and planted crops were also unable to grow. (A video of the report can be found here.)

On Friday, Kunshan's environmental protection bureau said it would investigate the matter, and monitor the water drained by the facilities. Any violations found will be dealt with, the city said in statement posted on the its official microblog account.

Taiwan-based Foxconn, which builds products for Apple, Microsoft and Sony, said it was aware of the claims made by the environmental groups, but said the waste treatment from its facility in Kunshan was in line with local regulations.

"The river that runs through the middle of that industrial park receives waste water discharges from a number of companies that are based in the park," the company said in a statement. Foxconn also said it was supporting government plans to protect the Taihu lake basin, and advocated other companies should do the same.

Unimicron, another Taiwan-based company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The dumping of the heavy metals by electronic suppliers usually comes from the manufacturing of printed circuit boards, according to the Chinese environmental groups. Copper toxicity can cause the poisoning of fish and soil, and lead to cardiovascular illness in humans, while nickel is a known carcinogen, the groups added.

In its report, the environmental groups said they suspected Unimicron's facility in the lake basin of supplying to smartphone maker HTC.

In response, HTC said, "The company has been taking a proactive approach to ensure proper and prudent supply chain management," and works to ensure all of its suppliers follows the company's code of conduct.

In recent years, Chinese environmental groups have been critical of electronic manufacturers in the country for polluting. In the past, Apple was accused of failing to prevent its suppliers from damaging the environment. Apple later agreed to jointly audit one of its suppliers' factories in China with a prominent environmental group in the country. Apple did not respond when asked to comment on the investigations by Kunshan's environmental protection bureau.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags environmentconsumer electronicsFoxconn Technology GroupElectronics manufacturingHealth and safety

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?