Apple Releases 2016 Supplier Responsibility Report

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has just released its eleventh annual Supplier Responsibility Report, and the company reported progress in several areas, including UL Zero Waste to Landfill validation, use of conflict minerals, and others. The iPhone maker’s suppliers also reported progress in working conditions. It audited 705 suppliers for its 2016 report.

Millions of workers trained on their right

According to Apple Inc. (AAPL), it found 98% compliance with the 60-hour cap on work weeks, which it said was the highest ever. The company trained more than 2.4 million workers on their rights as employees last year as well, and more than 2 million people have taken part in its Supplier Education Program since 2008.

The company also tripled the number of sites that participated in its Energy Efficiency program, which reduced more than 150,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. Last year also marked the first year that all of the final assembly sites for Apple Inc. (AAPL) products in China achieved 100% UL Zero Waste to Landfill validation. The company’s Clean Water program has also saved more than 3.8 billion gallons of fresh water since 2013.

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Apple makes progress on conflict minerals

Another key area of improvement for Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s suppliers last year was sourcing for conflict minerals, an issue which has especially come under the microscope since Donald Trump took office. Last year was the first year the iPhone maker’s responsible sourcing efforts added cobalt. The company also said that 2016 was the second consecutive year that all of its tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold smelters and refiners agreed to third-party audits.

The Trump administration may seek to suspend laws that require disclosure of the use of conflict minerals in products, which would mean that Apple Inc. (AAPL) would no longer be required to report on this. Conflict minerals are those that are usually mined in war-torn regions like the Congo, where such mining often funds violence.

However, the iPhone maker’s Supplier Responsibility Report is aimed at painting it in a positive light in terms of its sourcing and treatment of its workers, particularly those at factories in China that have been heavily criticized in previous years due to poor working conditions. As a result, Apple Inc. (AAPL) may choose to continue providing disclosures about its conflict mineral sourcing. In fact, a spokesperson for the company told BuzzFeed that “notwithstanding an changes to regulations –or deregulation,” they intend to keep running the same audit and accountability programs.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) also said it partnered with many non-governmental organizations to push for more changes in conflict mineral sourcing, including Pact, which is pushing for proper health and safety training for artisanal mining.