Apple admits child labor, falsified records & hazardous waste mismanagement at suppliers

Do you need tiny fingers to operate your iPhone?  How about to build it in the first place?  Apple have published their 2010 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report [pdf link], and it makes for interesting reading, not least in the face of ongoing industry-wide concerns about child labor, unsafe or unfair work practices and the general cost of making the gadgets we all enjoy.  According to Apple's own figures, in 2009 there were three manufacturing facilities where underage workers were employed; three which had employed the services of noncertified hazardous waste disposal; and three which had falsified records.

Of the incidents, it's likely to be the underage labor which gets the most media and public attention.  Apple have, obviously, leapt into action to deal with the so-called "core violations", and they're highlighting that only 2-percent of the core issues they assessed with non-compliant, but whether that's sufficient to take away the bad taste in consumers' mouths remains to be seen.

In a way, Apple are suffering by their own hand.  The company claims that suppliers have told them no other firm they work with has gone into such stringent investigations, and it seems likely that these issues that affect Apple's production lines will also be echoed on those of others'.  Still, given the halo around Apple, and its regular mention of environmental issues and the like at their press events, this could prove an embarassing blot on their account book.