Apple will participate in a jointly-monitored audit with China-based Institute of Public and Environment Affairs (IPE) to look into the pollution controls implemented by one of Cupertino's supply partner's factories in China.
The Financial Times (FT) reported on Sunday that the electronics giant appear to be taking more interest in addressing environmental concerns in its supply chain after it agreed to subject its partner--a maker of printed circuit boards--to an inspection of the latter's operations in the "next few weeks".
Ma Jun, an IPE director, told the news agency that Apple's agreeing to the audit was representative of an attitude change within the organization, which began in September 2011 after a second IPE report showed pollution discharges were "expanding and spreading in Apple's supply chain".
"One Apple vice president said that transparency was needed and I felt that was the moment they decided they wanted to change the way they were doing things," he said.
The director added that while Cupertino had previously insisted that its supply chain details and audits were private, he stressed that these aspects have now "become about validation". "We keep telling them that you can't just say everything's fine--we need proof."
Ma went on to identify Taiwan's HTC, Sweden's Ericsson and Japan's Canon as "laggards" in responding to pollution problems highlighted in their supply chains.
The IPE hoped that the joint audit is the first step toward further such inspections at 13 more factories where Apple has been carrying out its own environmental checks, the report noted.
Apple declined to comment on the report, stated FT.
Last November, Apple agreed to audit 15 of its component suppliers in China that were accused of pollution, and engage in more oversight to ensure the environment is being preserved around these suppliers' facilities.