Activist groups protest chemicals used in Apple’s iPhone

“Apple’s labor practices are under attack by two activist groups who contend the company makes its iPhones with a hazardous mix of chemicals that threaten the health of factory workers assembling the devices in China,” Michael Liedtke reports for The Associated Press. “The campaign began Wednesday with an online petition put together by China Labor Watch, a longtime Apple critic, and Green America, an environmental protection group.”

“If enough consumers sign the ‘Bad Apple’ petition, the two groups hope to pressure the company into abandoning the use of two chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in the production of the iPhone, Apple’s top-selling product,” Liedtke reports. “In a statement, Apple pointed out that it has already stopped using many hazardous chemicals, including PVC plastic and brominated flame, during the past few years to the acclaim of environmental groups such as Greenpeace. The Cupertino, Calif. company also says it ensures all remaining toxic substances comply with U.S. safety standards.”

“The protesting groups believe Apple’s factory inspections and publicly released reports about the findings have been whitewashing the real working conditions,” Liedtke reports. “Neither benzene nor n-hexane is unique to Apple’s manufacturing process. They are also used in the production of electronics products sold by other large technology companies who have also been criticized for their practices. For instance, last year a South Korean court raised doubts about Samsung Electronics’ claims that the benzene levels in its computer chip factories were safe. The court ruled Samsung hadn’t fully examined the health risk in its chip factories after a 29-year-old worker died of leukemia in 2009.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ooh, “Bad Apple.” How original. Perhaps they thought “Rotten” and “Worm in the” were too shopworn? Next press conference, maybe they’ll roll out Mike Daisey for a cameo. At least that would be semi-interesting.

Related articles:
Greenpeace praises Apple for reducing use of conflict minerals – February 13, 2014
Apple supplier audit tallies labor-rights violations – February 13, 2014
Apple confirms suppliers use conflict-free minerals – February 13, 2014
Fair Labor Association sees progress at major Apple supplier Foxconn – December 12, 2013
Greenpeace: Apple hiring former EPA chief Lisa Jackson a ‘bold move’ – May 29, 2013


  1. There will be risks, no matter what modern technological product is made and then risks from using these products, like say, automobiles.

    For “activists” to target any one company or product arena is merely a PR stunt.

    Ever wonder what happens to the rubber worn off your tires or the brake pads on your cars and pickups? That material doesn’t “disappear”. It just gets turned into micro-dust that we all breath in. So where is that complaint, which concerns virtually everyone in modern societies and arguably affects far more than just electronics manufacturing?

    “Activits” have another agenda.

  2. it’s commendable they’re concerned over the health of those factory workers, but why not keep them from the isles of cleaning products at target or walmart ….or from hazardous commercial cosmetics …or inform them there is nowhere they can go and not encounter environmental endocrine disruptors. just get them out of the city, put them on a farm and tell them to never, ever buy anything.

    i like it when these groups are informative but i dislike it when they make their points by discrediting success stories. i bet they never went after the makers of zune or dj ditty.

      1. No! That’s a silly thought. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt me. It might even improve the ease with which my writing is recognized by way of construction and for what little content one might avail themselves. I will try in ernest to appease those who are annoyed by my exclusive preference for lower case and/or satisfy those who simply desire that I adhere to the use of proper capitalization as well as sentence construction, grammar and punctuation.

        actually that did hurt a little.

        1. Don’t listen to the colonisers. They will impress their language, their customs, their values upon you. If they fail to do so, they will slaughter you. Flee, or stand up to them. There is no third choice.

  3. Follow the money and SameSong will be behind it directly or indirectly by paying bloggers who pay the protestors.

    I welcome all fair critics who mention all manufacturers in the desire to improve working conditions for all workers as well as users of those devices.

    Apple leads the way in a public and transparent way to reduce risk to workers and the environment and I am sure they are working on these and other substances.

    Tim’s comment that ROI at any cost (to the environment, workers, and users) is stupid and only for those with short term vision and extreme selfish mindset.

  4. They should be going after Samsung, which makes “80% of all phones” or whatever. How “green” is Samsung as a Company? Anyone out there compare Apple v Samsung w.r.t. their green credentials? Including cradle to grave accounting for product life cycle costs?

  5. why is it ‘Apple’s’ labour practices?

    to China Labour Watch and idiot reporters: those factories don’t belong to Apple. Apple is just a customer. Apple doesn’t run them or hire the managers etc.

    If I eat in a restaurant (i.e a customer) am I to blame for the restaurants dirty kitchen?

    In Apple’s case the responsibility belongs to the contractor AND the Chinese regulating authorities. Shouldn’t China Labour Watch criticize the factory and report to the China authorities if the factories are violating some health act? Shouldn’t the authorities take action?

    CLW like all these operations want money from donations and the way to get it is to hit the high profile targets like Apple instead of going it RIGHT WAY i.e report the stuff to the authorities. If the authorities don’t care maybe they should spend some energy to change them FIRST? won’t that be more effective than changing every (of thousands) of customers? Just shows that it is all b.s.

    In spite of just being a customer, apple is already doing more than is required, setting up standards, doing audits, dropping companies who continually abuse it’s standards etc. China Labour Watch etc should praise apple and use its energy to fix those things which don’t seem to responding like the factories themselves and the government. Attacking a foreign company like Apple which affects less than 1% of the workers, don’t own the factories and can’t interfere in local government policies or politics is silly : it should be seen as it is : a publicity money making stunt.

  6. More irrelevant groups whoring for attention.

    Are they protesting the consistent use of more and worse chemicals in the factories assembling hp, Dell, Acer, Asus, Sony, and Samsung phones and products?

    Oh, what’s that? No, not really?

    So much for that.

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