Friends of the Earth “Make It Better Campaign” Starts With Smartphones
The United Kingdom based environmental awareness group Friends of the Earth is pushing European companies to be more transparent about their supply chains and raw materials used in their products. F.O.E. has launched a hub with the aim to pressure the European Union to mandate that companies operating and selling goods in Europe using materials more responsibly and ethically. It should be no surprise, therefore, that F.O.E. has started this initiative with a stinging rebuke of the leading global smartphone manufacturers. Last weekend F.O.E. published a report that focused on tin mining in Indonesia. Indonesia is the world’s second largest exporter of tin, an important component in smart phones. Since the islands became a colony of the Dutch centuries ago, mining companies have extracted tin for a bevy of uses. Today much of the tin flowing out of Indonesia comes from the island of Bangka, located just east of Sumatra. And so while Samsung and Apple slug it out over patent disputes, F.O.E.’s research show that the two companies have one thing in common: they both deal with suppliers that have sourced tin from Bangka. What are some of the results of this industry on locals who toil in the island’s tin mines? Land and sea tin mining in Bangka have both led to the following results:
- An average of one miner a week died according to 2011 official police statistics.
- The local drinking water is often polluted.
- Not only is the local landscape forever altered, but once-fertile land has become poisoned.
- Sources of local drinking water end up tainted.
- On sea beds, silt containing tin is killing the basis marine life, from mangroves to sea grass to coral.
- Fisheries have suffered, and sea life including endangered giant clams and tortoises are threatened.
- Workers can barely make ends meet, making as little as $9 a day.