Apple has agreed to participate in an environmental audit of one of the Chinese factories in its supply chain. The inspection would be the beginning of a pilot program designed to gauge the environmental impact of manufacturers.
According to a report this morning by Macworld, Apple will be cooperating with China's Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) to conduct an audit at one of the printed circuit board manufacturers in Apple's supply chain. The current agreement only applies to one of Apple's factories, but the program could be expanded in the future.
Unlike previous concerns with factories in Apple's supply chain, this audit is primarily concerned with pollution, rather than labor issues. Early this year Apple's released their Supplier Responsibility Report. A month later, the Fair Labor Association found that conditions at plants owned by Foxconn (Apple's main manufacturing partner) were "above average." Nevertheless, both Apple and Foxconn came under intense scrutiny after a labor activist said that Foxconn had tricked the FLA during the organization's audit, making it appear that conditions were better than they really were.
The situation heated up when NPR's This American Life ran a story that purported to show that conditions inside Foxconn were actually very bad, including violations of human rights and labor laws. The report was later retracted when it became clear that Mike Daisy, a performance artist who was the primary source for the story, admitted that many of the supposed violations were fabricated.