Intel achieves conflict-free supply chain

Products and packages shipped by American technology giant Intel will be 'conflict free' in 2016, the company's chief executive announced at this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Intel has executed a six-year plan to ensure that all of the raw materials and metals needed for the production of its computer chips, processors and drives do not come from mines where profits are used to fuel civil wars such as in DR Congo.

Speaking at CES 2016, Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich said: “We must remember that behind every device, every game, every connection, every tweet, is a real person with real needs for safety and inclusion.

“As technology becomes more and more integrated and part of people’s lives, the responsibility to be a leader in every sense grows for this audience. My hope is that Intel can influence an entirely new and different way of doing business.”

All Intel products will be fitted with conflict-free labels to ensure customers of the sourcing of Intel’s supply chain. However, products developed through Intel’s $16.7bn purchase of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) maker Altera may not fall under this scheme.

One way that Intel is ensuring safety in its supply chain is through the Conflict-Free Smelter Program (CFSP). CFSP is a third-party audit process that validates smelting practices, providing safe alternatives for local workers. These safely produced materials can then be used in microchips for use in smartphones and laptops.

Intel is hoping to inspire other companies to join the conflict-free ethos, using its recently commissioned survey to reveal that conflict-free products are beginning to influence consumer buying decisions among millennials – who account for a large portion of the company’s demographic.

CSR & ethics

The mineral pledge forms part of Intel’s ongoing CSR effort which has seen the company set targets and call to action on climate change and renewable energy. Intel is currently researching technological improvements for agriculture and using processors to track endangered species like rhinos.

Fellow tech giant Apple is also been in the process of creating a conflict-free supply chain – and the company released a report last year tracking the progress it is making.

The UK has taken steps to ensure that companies – specifically those with a turnover of greater than £36m – provide slavery and human trafficking statements in annual reports so that any discrepancies in regards to supply chain ethics can be weeded out.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie