Apple on Friday revealed that it asked suppliers to kick out five smelters and refiners from their supply chain during 2018.
Apple has long been committed to what it calls “Supplier Responsiblity,” ensuring that all of the companies in its supply chain, from the mines that produce the raw minerals to the factories that assemble its iPhones, are held to the highest standards for human rights, environmental stewardship, and ethical and responsible business practices.
As such, Apple has released its annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, outlining its commitments to “people and the planet” and highlighting the steps it has taken year over year to improve in these areas.
“Apple works to safeguard the well-being of people involved in its supply chain and to protect the places where materials are sourced,” reads Apple’s report. “Through its strict supplier standards, Apple commits to using minerals in its products that do not directly or indirectly finance armed conflict or benefit armed groups.”
According to the progress report, Apple removed five smelters and refiners from its supply chain for failing to pass or not being willing to participate in human rights audits.
In 2018, the iPhone maker identified eight potential incidents “involving the police in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and/or the DRC army in connection with a variety of alleged illicit activities,” the report said. Three incidents have closed while five remain open with investigations in progress, though details weren’t provided in the report.
“In 2018, Apple directed its suppliers to remove from its supply chain five smelters and refineries not willing to participate in, or complete, a third-party audit or that did not otherwise meet Apple’s requirements on the responsible sourcing of materials,” said the company.
More than 250 smelters and refiners in Apple’s supply chain passed the company’s auditing process in 2018.
In 2017, The Enough Project called Apple the “clear leader” among worldwide multinational companies working to source conflict-free minerals from suppliers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.