Business for Social Sustainability
Q1: FULL supply chain (SC) for computer products
The people who are involved at each part of the supply chain
Raw Material Extraction
Several raw materials go into the components for a computer. Examples are lead, gold, silver, coltan (columbo-tantalite), cadmium, aluminium, zinc and copper. These materials are extracted in developing countries that have the necessary natural resources, like countries in South America (e.g. Chile, Brazil) and African countries (e.g. Dem. Rep. of Congo; Rwanda, Burundi).
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, which has the world's largest reserves (64%) of Coltan (a crucial raw material for the production of modern electonics) is one of the world's poorest countries with a GNI per capita of only US$150 (world bank 2008). Burundi is also involved in the mining of columbium and tantalum and is ranked as the world's poorest country with GNI per capita of US$140 (world bank 2008).
The security and health standards in these mines are very low or non-existent and child labor is not unusual. However, compared to the average Congolese income coltan mining pays well.
The life expectancy for the DRC is as low as 46.4 years (world bank 2008). Also mortality rates have been increasing in the past years - the Under-5 mortality rate has increased from 104 is in 1990 to 125 in 2007 (unicef). While the ratio of primary school enrolment is rather high, many children in the DRC leave their studies and try to make money in the mines. Coltan is such a valuable ore that nations are willing to make war in order to gain control over the natural resource. Millions have have died in the coltan financed wars between the Democratice Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
Also, coltan mining has severe impact on the environment since areas are de-forested and the endangered gorillas are facing extinction because the starved workers use them as source of nutrition.
Computer components are produced all over the world but a lot of them are made in Asia, most notably China and Taiwan but also Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines where the technology is available but the cost of labor is lower than in developed western countries. The GNI per capita in China is with US$2,940 (World bank 2008) much higher than in the African mining countries but still low and the factory workers are typically low wage workers as well. These are the fast developing countries. The Under-5 mortality rate, for example, has decreased drastically from 118 in 1970 to 22 in 2007. The education of the Chinese has been ok in recent years with a ratio of secondary school enrolment of 75 compared to 88 in the United States (Unicef).
The final assembly of the components into a computer also takes place in several countries around the world but Asian countries and mainly China are leading the...