SHANGHAI, Jan 20, 2011 (AFP) - Chinese environmental groups have singled out US giant Apple for failing to tackle concerns over pollution and the health of workers at plants making iPhone components, in a new report released Thursday.
Apple ranked last in a survey of how 29 multinational technology companies respond to inquiries about pollution and workplace health hazards at factories in their supply chain in China, the report said.
The study reflects more than a year's work by more than 30 Chinese environmental NGOs to pressure multinational companies into being more accountable for their impact on the country's environment.
"Apple has broken its promise on three aspects of supply-chain social responsibilities," said the report, the main author of which is the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, an independent Beijing-based organisation.
"On Apple's supply chain, some workers were poisoned and disabled, neighbourhoods and communities were polluted while there were severe infringement of workers' rights, interest and dignity," the report said.
It commends Hewlett-Packard, British telecoms operator BT, Alcatel-Lucent, Vodafone, Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp and Hitachi for taking some steps to change poor practices or step up supervision of manufacturing.
Apple was not the only company the report cited as failing to act or respond to concerns - Nokia, LG, SingTel, Sony and Ericsson also fared poorly in the survey.
But the US company was the worst, the groups said, for "dodging" questions from the public and requests from environmental groups for investigations.
"You should educate yourself. We do more than any other company on the planet," the report quoted Apple CEO Steve Jobs as writing in response to an Internet user's question about its social responsibility record.
Apple's website says it is committed to ensuring the highest standards of responsibility and insists suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and be environmentally responsible.
Apple officials were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.