How one activist used a little shaming and a lot of patience to clean up Chinese factories
This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
One humid July day, the Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun stood in front of an alley sandwiched by two warehouses at the factory of an Apple supplier called Catcher, a two-hour bullet-train ride south of Beijing. He wore safety goggles and scribbled in a notebook. Two Apple executives flanked him.
Guides from Catcher toured Ma around towering black tanks and large sheds containing vats and pipes that disposed of the toxic chromium waste produced in manufacturing parts for iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. Apple and Catcher said the state-of-the-art system processed the waste without any discharge. Ma’s group, the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), was considering writing a report on the technology, if it could verify the claim. After a tour of the nearly 500-acre facility, Ma and the executives adjourned to an office conference room on the campus. The atmosphere was cordial, one of partners rather than adversaries.
Apple’s meetings with Ma weren’t always like this. The first one, at its California headquarters in 2011, when he co... Read more