Apple’s response was less detailed and less persuasive. To give you an idea of how complex the problem has become, it has discovered that its metals are supplied by 211 smelters, liberally distributed around the planet. Any of them could be using minerals seized by militias in Congo. But the fact that it has mapped its own supply chain is a good sign.
Two years ago Motorola launched a scheme – which looks credible – whose purpose is to buy conflict-free tantalum from eastern Congo. Projects of this kind, which start at the beginning of the long chain of suppliers, provide an income for local people, while guaranteeing that armed psychopaths have not profited from the sale of your phone. It’s hard to see why all the manufacturers can’t join it.
Other companies, hiding behind their trade associations, have done all they can to undermine these efforts. Two months ago a new provision of the US Dodd Frank Act, which obliges companies to discover whether the minerals they buy from Congo are funding armed groups, came into force. It should have happened before, but it was delayed for 16 months by corporate lobbyists. Thanks to their efforts, and after 17 years of ignoring the issue, companies will still be allowed to dodge their duty for another two years, by stating that they don’t know where the minerals come from.
- My search for a smartphone that is not soaked in blood | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian (via new-aesthetic)
It’s a good sign that there have been some, however marginal, efforts by Motorola to address this issue. I would suggest, however, that until carriers are forced to declare whether the phones they sell are blood free or not (either because of legislation or because they’re trying to head off legislation) you won’t get the consumer to care in a more visceral manner. And without the consumer this is a horrifically hard uphill slog.