Electronics Update Question 5b
Does the brand (company) have a clear policy to only source from smelters that have passed the conflict-free audits, and has the brand already achieved this for at least one metal/mineral?
NL: Heeft het merk (bedrijf) een duidelijk beleid om alleen in te kopen van smelterijen die als conflictvrij zijn aangemerkt en heeft het merk dit al bereikt voor tenminste 1 metaal/mineraal?
DE: Setzt der Markenhersteller Maßnahmen um, um Produkte ausschließlich von Schmelzhütten zu beziehen die ein Audit bzgl. der Vermeidung von Konfliktmineralien positiv absolviert haben? Gilt mindestens ein Metall / Mineral bereits als konfliktfrei?
Most electronics are made with metals/minerals like tin, tantalum, tungsten (the 3 Ts) and gold, which are partly produced in areas where the mining business may support armed conflicts, like in eastern Congo. In these areas, many minerals are mined either by the national government or one of several armed militias and rebel groups under conditions of serious human rights abuses and without concern for environmental protection. Therefore, the mined minerals are called “conflict materials”. According to Greenpeace the social and environmental dangers around sourcing these conflict materials are growing.
The minerals most likely to be “conflict materials” are:
- Tin (used as a solder on circuit boards in all electronic devices)
- Tantalum (stores electricity and is essential to portable electronics and high speed processing devices)
- Tungsten (enables cell phone vibration alerts and is in LCD screens)
- Gold (used in wiring of electronic devices)
For this question we refer to the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) and their Conflict Free Smelters Program (CFSP). Part of the Conflict Free Smelters Program is an implementation and verification process where smelters should finally be declared as 'Conflict Free'. The program website already shows a smelter list and indicates the smelters that are compliant.
Brands can (1) publish their own policy that specifically excludes smelters of conflict minerals or state that they (2) implement the Conflict Free Sourcing Program with the OECD Guidelines and that they (3) require suppliers to either participate in the program or adhere to the guidelines. At time of ranking (June 2014) some brands already report obvious results. A clear milestone indicating progress has been achieved by Apple: at least one mineral/metal (in the Apple case: tin) in the supply chain has the 'conflict free' status. Fairphone has achieved this for both tin and tantalum.