Seoul, 23 January 2017 – Samsung today announced the results of investigations into what caused the Galaxy Note 7 explosions, but has still failed to publish its plan to deal with the 4.3 million phones recalled worldwide. Greenpeace urges Samsung to immediately show leadership and be transparent about how it will deal with these phones and the tonnes of precious materials they contain.

At a press conference in Seoul Samsung executives, together with ‘independent expert organizations’, confirmed that battery faults, rushed manufacturing and insufficient testing before launching the product on the market were the root causes of the fault. There was no mention of what will happen to the millions of phones that have been collected since September.  

In November Greenpeace launched a global petition which gathered over 30,000 signatures worldwide, asking Samsung not to dump the phones and instead take this chance to act with transparency and implement a truly sustainable recycling system. The recall is one of the biggest in recent history and has caused Samsung huge public embarrassment and a decrease in consumer trust.

“Thousands of people around the world asked Samsung to use this opportunity to set an example to the industry and embrace complete transparency. Instead, the company’s announcement today focussed solely on the main cause of the explosion and failed to tell us what it will now do with the phones,” said Jude Lee, Senior IT Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “Samsung needs to re-establish customer trust by first sharing its plan and then starting to embrace product design that benefits people and the planet, ensuring the reuse of resources.”

One hour prior to the press conference Greenpeace East Asia held a meeting with Samsung representatives to discuss their plan to deal with the recalled phones in which the organisation made its demands clear. Greenpeace is calling on Samsung to reuse the almost new components that did not contribute to the cause of the explosion (such as the camera, alarm vibration unit and microphone); to prioritise the reuse of components that would have the highest environmental cost (such as the screen and circuit board); and to develop more efficient disassembly and more effective recovery systems. Greenpeace will continue to call on Samsung to treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves.

“The Galaxy Note 7 incident is the perfect example of how the disposable economic model adopted by the company has high risks and is doomed to fail. Despite Samsung’s promises to act responsibly on this issue, we have yet to see any concrete plans on how it will mitigate what could turn out into a major environmental problem. We urge Samsung to rethink its current, wasteful production system on behalf of its global customers, the thousands who joined Greenpeace’s ‘Save The Galaxy’ campaign and the planet,” continued Lee.

According to the calculations in a Greenpeace commissioned report by the Oeko-Institut, a research and consultancy institution based in Germany, the 4.3 million Galaxy Note 7 recollected worldwide contain more than 20 metric tonnes of Cobalt, approximately more than 1 tonne of tungsten, 1 tonne of silver, 100 kilograms of gold and between 20 and 60 kilograms of palladium. At the moment there is still no clarity on whether these precious resources will be reused or disposed.

Notes to editors:
[1] More information on calculations and methodology by the Oeko-Institut available here.
[2] 4.3 million smartphones refers to calculations presented in South Korean media:
From August 19 launch until the first global recall on 2 September, 2.5 million Note 7 phones were produced (1.5 million were sold). After the first recall, 1.5 million further replacement products were produced. Samsung sold a further 0.2 million devices in China after the first global recall (the country was not included in the recall as the batteries were sourced elsewhere). The company also sold a further 0.1
million more in Korea from October 1 after resuming sales.
Media contacts:

Greenpeace International Press Desk, [email protected], phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)