Earlier this month, The Nation joined Green America and China Labor Watch to call on Apple to stop exposing workers at its supplier factories to deadly chemicals. Over 16,000 people have joined the campaign, hundreds of media outlets have covered it and the technology giant has even responded, although it hasn’t adequately addressed activists’ demands. To make that happen, there’s still work to done and, this afternoon, Green America ramped up the pressure with a demonstration at Apple’s “cube” store located near Central Park in New York City. The store is a popular tourist destination and is one of Apple’s most profitable locations, grossing around $350 million per year.
As we pointed out at the beginning of the campaign, there are hundreds of chemicals routinely used in electronics manufacturing, some of which are known carcinogens and reproductive toxins and some of which have not been tested. Factory workers often do not receive adequate training or protective gear for handling toxic substances. Electronics manufacturers, including Apple, do not disclose the chemicals used in their supplier factories, making oversight and improvement difficult. The ramifications are serious; exposure to dangerous chemicals can lead to cancer, leukemia, nerve damage, liver and kidney failure, and reproductive health issues, depending on the chemical and level of exposure.
There’s some precedent for Apple responding to similar campaigns. In 2012, Greenpeace hosted an action to call attention to Apple’s wasteful energy practices. One year later, the company announced a plan to use 100 percent renewable energy at its data centers.
With millions of people working in their supplier network, another positive change from Apple could make a big difference. If you haven’t already, be sure to join The Nation and Green America in calling on Apple to rid its supplier factories of dangerous chemicals.