A new investigation has claimed that Apple is not doing enough to tackle child labor. It's reported by charity Amnesty that cobalt, a component used to make lithium-ion batteries in smartphones, is being mined by children as young as seven. This isn't the first time Apple, as well as competitor tech giants have come under fire due to working conditions for those in the supply chains.
Children's charity UNICEF estimates that approximately 40,000 children currently work in mines across southern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Materials mined by these workers are then used to make products sold by the likes of Apple, Samsung and others. According to the Amnesty report:
"The glamourous shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels risking permanent lung damage," said Mark Dummett, Business & Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products."
Consumers have little to no idea as to where materials are sourced for products purchased, but one could argue that companies with vast amounts of resources should be able to ensure supply chains are clear of child labor and working conditions for those who refine minerals and work on components are of an acceptable level.
Apple has since responded to the BBC, stating that the company does not tolerate child labor in the company's supply chains and is proud to be leading the industry in pioneering new safeguards.
"We are currently evaluating dozens of different materials, including cobalt, in order to identify labour and environmental risks as well as opportunities for Apple to bring about effective, scalable and sustainable change."