Apple to Audit Chinese Supplier Over Pollution Controls

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Apple will conduct an audit of the pollution management of one of its component suppliers, a Chinese environmental group said Monday, as its operations face greater scrutiny there.

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The inspection is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, and the results will later be made public, according to Wang Ding, vice director for the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), which has been critical of Apple's environmental practices.

Wang said the component supplier makes printed-circuit boards, but she declined to provide further details.

Wang said that her group would participate in auditing the supplier and that it would be carried out with the help of professional auditors. The group hopes to conduct future audits of other Apple suppliers, she said, but added that any need for future audits "depends on Apple's and its suppliers' actions."

IPE is led by one of China's best-known green activists, Ma Jun. After the organization came out with a 2010 report on environmental problems caused by 29 companies in China, Apple was the only one not to respond, according to Wang. But she said Apple began to reach out to the group following a second critical report in September.

"We think they [Apple] have changed a lot, especially that they are opening up and allowing an audit like this," she said, adding, "It's a good start and a good change, but we will watch closely to see what happens and if they maintain this more open attitude."

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The examination comes as Apple has taken steps to provide greater transparency about the working conditions and environmental impact of the Chinese factories that supply the components for its popular iPhones, iPads and laptop computers.

Apple and one of its largest suppliers, Hon Hai Precision Industry, earlier this month agreed to a set of recommendations by a Fair Labor Association audit that called for a reduction of work hours and increased compensation for workers.

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