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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Electronics manufacturingconsumer electronicsFoxconn Technology GroupHealth and safetyenvironment

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?