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iPhone creates ripples across the globe

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Apple? iPhone? manufacturing? supply chain? Rand Group?

Exploring the biggest questions concerning the impact of supply chain could prove a daunting task. Yet, watching how a product travels through the supply chain can underline the need to make an effort.

The Rand Group infographic below highlights a handful of data points about the breadth of impact of Apple's popular iPhone. Taken on its own, the footprint of this diminutive product is impressive.

Taken together with Apple's recent annual shareholder meetings, though, it becomes even more interesting. At the meeting, sustainability was brought centre stage as a shareholder from a conservative think tank to "stop worrying about sustainability, green issues, and climate change and concentrate instead on the bottom line of profitability," according to an article in

To some extent, you could argue that the company has already traded a green approach for better sales. The iPhone is well known for an aesthetically pleasing design that leaves little room for repair or recycling.

The company, though, has made its mark in good environmental and humanitarian efforts. These efforts will lead to something that is, hopefully, both good for the company and for the environment. Apple's recent "Supplier Responsibility 2014 Progress Report" points to some positive signs:

* The company enforced its Supplier Code of Conduct through 451 audits performed across the supply chain.

* It moved forward in its efforts with Dodd Frank compliance "In January 2014 we confirmed that all active, identified tantalum smelters in our supply chain were verified as conflict-free by third party auditors, and we're pushing our suppliers of tin, tungsten, and gold just as hard to use verified sources," the report said. The company will release a list of the smelters and refiners in its supply chain along with verification status.

* It launched a pilot of its Clean Water Program with 13 supplier sites, which collectively use more than 41 million cubic meters of water per year, with "a goal to reuse a significant amount of treated process wastewater and recycle water within the production process," the report said.

This seems like a strong start. Let's talk about it: What do you want to see leading electronics manufacturers do to further the human rights and sustainability conversation in the supply chain industry?

Rand Group iPhone global impact

- Hailey Lynne McKeefry

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