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Apple Ranked Last by China Environment Group for Transparency

Apple Inc. ranked last out of 29 global technology companies in terms of responsiveness and transparency to health and environmental concerns in China, according to a Beijing-based nonprofit group.

BT Group Plc and Hewlett-Packard Co. were among the highest ranked companies, Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Environmental and Public Affairs said in a phone interview today. Apple refused to confirm suspected polluters were among its suppliers and avoided taking responsibility for environmental problems related to its products, he said.

“Apple has had an extensive supplier auditing program since 2006 and we have lots of information available through our website,” said Jill Tan, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Apple. Tan said she read the IPE report.

Among the examples cited in the report is Wintek Corp. which in 2009 is alleged to have used poisonous chemicals in the production of screens for Apple that resulted in workers being hospitalized for nerve damage. In a regulatory filing in May, Wintek said it stopped using the chemical, N-Hexane, and all workers were getting adequate treatment. Apple has not acknowledged Wintek as a supplier, Ma said.

All of the workers involved in that case have recovered fully, said Jay Huang, a spokesman for Taichung, Taiwan-based Wintek. He declined to say whether Apple is a current or past customer. Apple’s Tan declined to say if Wintek is a supplier, or comment on specific cases.

BT and HP ranked highly in IPE’s list of technology companies because they have responded to environmental problems and worked with suppliers to ensure better compliance, Ma said.

“We originally thought that Apple, as a corporate citizen, would take a leadership role, but now we feel they ended up as the most obstructive,” Ma said. IPE today released “The Other Side of Apple” a report that outlines findings from a group of 36 non-governmental organizations into environmental and health practices among technology companies.

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