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 Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Electronics manufacturingconsumer electronicsFoxconn Technology GroupHealth and safetyenvironment

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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 News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?