Buried beneath the 3D printers and bendy TVs of CES, Intel announced it would no longer source the raw materials it needs to make computer chips from ‘conflict zones’.
Many parts inside our smartphones, laptops and tablets require rare minerals like tungsten, tin and gold. These minerals are often found in countries where production and the trade of materials can be controlled by armed groups.
Intel announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Los Angeles that all the microprocessors it makes in 2014 will be ‘conflict free’. Intel says it will do this by cleaning up the supply chain in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it sources many of its raw materials.
‘We felt an obligation to implement changes’
Intel’s chief exec Brian Krzanich said:
‘We felt an obligation to implement changes in our supply chain to ensure that our business and our products were not inadvertently funding human atrocities.
‘This is not an issue we would normally be talking about at CES. But it’s an issue that is important to me. You begin to think about the impact of the supply chain and the potential issues you can be causing.’
Both Apple and HP have made similar noises about becoming ‘conflict free’ over the past 12 months and it does feel like the tide of opinion in tech is turning. But is there still some way to go?
This is an issue that Friends of the Earth (FOE) is working on with its Make it Better campaign. FOE’s executive director Andy Atkins wrote in his guest post here on Which? Conversation:
‘We looked at the origins of the 2g of tin-rich solder in every mobile, and found that tin mining on the Indonesian island of Bangka is destroying tropical forests, choking coral reefs and devastating communities.’
I try to shop ethically for cosmetic products and clothes where possible and when money allows. I’ve never done so for tech. I think I will now. If I was choosing between a laptop with an Intel chip or one built by a less responsible manufacturer, I’d personally go for the Intel.
How much does social responsibility affect your choice of tech, or other products for that matter? Would you shop elsewhere if a company was using ‘conflict minerals’?
Do you care whether your tech products are ethically made?
Yes, I do care (56%, 788 Votes)
I didn't realise this was a problem (29%, 408 Votes)
No, I don't care (14%, 201 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,397